No stopping at 90. A tribute to Associate Professor Charles Engel.
Charles Engel was one of David Maddison's several inspired choices of founding faculty members recruited to the Newcastle medical program, then the Faculty of Medicine, in December 1975. Charles was pivotal to the development of the Newcastle undergraduate medical program bringing educational theory, practical experience in instructional design, rigor and logic to the task of building the curriculum and the assessment system. In collaboration with David and, of course, other new members of the faculty, he played a very important role in formulating and establishing the ground breaking changes in medical education that became the hallmark of the Newcastle Medical School.
He set up both the Audiovisual Team, later separated under Adrian Daniel at the David Maddison Building, and the Division of Medical Education and Program Evaluation (DMEPE) in the Medical Sciences Building. He played a large part in establishing various program evaluation projects including one on career outcomes. He, with Professor Rufus Clarke and others, published early descriptive accounts of the curriculum and was a founding member of the Network of Community Oriented Medical Schools (now Network TUFH, of which Charles is an Honorary Life Member) and to its workshop at Newcastle on academic organization in relation to new structures and aims of medical education.
He was a valued contributor, indeed a driving force, to the development of the Hunter Postgraduate Medical Institute (HPMI). His breadth of vision, together with that of Alan Hewson and several other colleagues, led to the formation of the Hunter Postgraduate Medical Foundation, in no small part because Charles saw lifelong learning to be a core attribute of the professional person. This association continues to flourish, as does the medical school – both wonderful tributes to many people among whom Charles was a major figure.
Nationally he was a strong and forceful contributor to ANZAME.
Charles retired from his position as Associate Professor of Medical Education and head of the Medical Education Unit in 1985 after 10 years.
In retirement he was ever busy with an office in The Institute of Education in London and undertook a variety of high level consultancies that included Karolinska and a major university in Germany. Both gave him an honorary degree. He with Professor Tosteston of Harvard, Professor Henk Schmidt of Maastricht and Professor John Hamilton of Newcastle were the speakers at the Nobel Prize symposium on Medical Education in December 1997.
He assists and consults with a number of medical schools overseas, Africa in particular.
He has a long term visiting professorship at the medical school of Manchester University working with them on aspects of problem-based learning and in particular an initiative to extend the concept and practice to establish a comprehensive system of education.
A major initiative by Charles in recent years was to convene a workshop in Liverpool and later to recruit a team of education enthusiasts to develop a guide to assist individuals and institutions contemplating curricular change to avoid some of the common pitfalls and to prevent the need to re-invent the wheel. Charles produced and edited the guide which was hosted initially at a site associated with the University of Manchester. The most recent development, which Charles is very happy about, is that the Guide is to be hosted here on our Faculty's website at Newcastle where Charles made so great a contribution.
The School’s reputation was built on the success and determination of founding members such as Charles Engel. While his retirement from the School left a gap that was very difficult to fill, students continue to benefit from his early input into curriculum development and vision for post graduate learning. At 90, his intellect remains a source of brilliance and, no doubt, his energy and commitment to learning will have an influence for many years to come.
Happy birthday Charles
Many of Charles past colleagues wished to reminisce, express their gratitude and offer their best wishes for his birthday.
Charles’ contribution to the successful implementation of the ground breaking changes in medical education was enormous and the school must forever be grateful to him for this success. It was a huge job. Almost everything was done differently in Newcastle and it had to be done well. Charles, as A/Professor of Medical Education, saw to it that it was.
Growing up in the circumstances and time that he did Charles did not have a university degree. This did not prevent him becoming a world expert in his field but it is the reason that he was not able to be made a full professor, university rules being what they are. Nevertheless he has been a living example of the power of life-long learning, which is one of the aims the school has tried to instil in its students.
Today's students, and even the present academic staff, may not be aware of the contribution made by Charles Engel to the world of learning to which they belong but they all owe him a great big "thank you" as well as a "Happy Birthday".
Charles was a very important person in helping me to settle into the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Newcastle. I would like to acknowledge my gratitude to Charles for this.
However, the anecdote that I would like to relate is the one that occurred after Charles had left the University of Newcastle. One of his roles was as Editor of Education for Health. On one particular occasion that he had asked me to write an invited paper, I submitted the manuscript. Typical of Charles his comments came back covering many pages. That will not be a surprise to anyone who ever experienced his editorial hand. The comment that I remember particularly well was “I really liked the first sentence.”
Happy Birthday Charles.
Professor Richard Henry AM
In my position as the foundation Chair of the Undergraduate Education Committee (which was charged with putting the education program together), I found Charles to be a staunch ally and wise adviser in the development of the Schools PBL program in medicine, at that time the fourth in the world.
I think that his insistence on attention to detail may have irritated some of our more laid-back colleagues, but as a fellow-obsessional, I valued his support and advice, which helped us to develop the ground-breaking program of which we were justly proud. His wisdom and maturity tempered the energy of the ‘Young Turks’ who David Maddison had gathered around him, and we all benefited from Charles’ presence.
His retirement, although well-deserved, came too soon, and his departure left a gap which was difficult to fill.
Professor Rufus Clarke
Foundation Professor of Anatomy, 1976-1990
Foundation Chair, Undergraduate Education Committee, 1976-1981
Charles has been a mentor to me from the day I first met him (in September 1978, a day or so after I arrived in Newcastle, eager to learn what this PBL business was all about).
His knowledge and wisdom, his energy and passion for spreading the word and encouraging excellence in medical education has been an inspiration to me ever since. I worked closely with Charles on many Faculty committees until his 'retirement' from the University in 1985. Notable was the 'Phase I committee' which was responsible for all aspects of the important first term of the five year curriculum. I chaired that committee for a two year period and Charles, the good 'Australian Democrat' that he was kept me [educationally] honest and true to the School's philosophy with his sharply insightful comments and invaluable suggestions.
He does this still – in 2008 Charles encouraged me to take over the responsibility for “The Guide” (A whole system approach to Problem-Based Learning in dental, medical and veterinary sciences - A Guide to important variables) which he saw the need for, persuaded a group of educators to write, and then edited the result into the very useful document it has turned out to be. His keen eye and intellect continues to guide my fumblings with “The Guide”.
Professor David Powis
I am indebted to you, not only for such a thorough introduction to and fostering of my career in medical education, but for your own work ethic and persistent re-emphasis of the praxis between academic life and professional practice.
Your personal and professional interest in,and kindness to all Division of Medical Education and Program Evaluation (DMEPE) staff and their families was very reassuring during that period of constant change and innovation. I have used that same approach to great benefit in the different education programs I have been involved with around the world.
You'd have been chuffed to observe our recent HPMI Board meeting, seeing how it has matured and is redefining its function by reaching out to a wider range of health professions, yet also nurturing input from medical students (presentations on their electives) and educational initiatives for resident medical officers and GPs in their various practice settings. So, you (and Alan) have shaped a great legacy for health professionals, for which we are very grateful.
Grahame and Anne Feletti
My meeting with Charles came as a serendipity in 1993. I was in London doing a postgraduate in Pediatrics, but had also been appointed Designated Dean for the new Zamboanga Medical School (ZMS) in the Phillipines. Part of my task in London was to start writing the medical curriculum. Somewhat at a loss on how to develop an alternative medical education curriculum, I sought help from Dr. Charles Engel of the University of London. I simply called him up, giving a factual story of my background, i.e. “Filipino, from a poor country, wanting to learn about alternative types of medical education, can you take me on, I cannot pay you.” The response was a friendly: “Come over for a cup of tea and tell me what you are doing.”
Dr. Engel must have liked the story told. He dedicated four hours a week to mentor me on a one on one basis. He taught me the concepts, the method, and helped write a problem-based, competency- based, community-oriented medical education curriculum. At the end of six months tutorial, Dr. Engel pronounced: “You are ready to launch.”
Now 18 years later the ZMS still operates on the foundations of medical education I learned from Charles. The School was recently surveyed as the best small medical school in the Phillipines and overall one of the top 10 medical schools in the nation. For this we are indebted to Charles’ generosity and dedication to medical education.
Dr. Fortunato Cristobal
Dean, School of Medicine, Ateneo de Zamboanga Univ., Philippines
Charles Engel was one of David Maddison's several inspired choices of founding faculty. He engaged with firmness, good humour and great politeness despite the rough edges of his youthful colleagues (including me!). His patience and persistence were among his major attributes and, in those days, he smoked a pipe that ensured persistent tranquillity. No-one knew exactly what he put in it! His skills and systematic approach and deep appreciation for scholarship meant that what was built in the curriculum was robust and humane.
Charles' vision for society was broad and he was a strong advocate for the role of professionals in participating in, and leading, change. He has pursued this interest vigorously in retirement in several UK universities, WHO and among his extensive personal network. He was also a grand colleague.
Professor Steve Leeder
Foundation Professor of Community Medicine
The coming of Charles Engel to the new Medical School at Newcastle in 1976, and my own subsequent close association with him in relation to post graduate education, was one of the most significant events in my whole career in Medicine. His wide practical experience in all matters educational, his incisive mind and his critical analysis of complex issues was an eye opener to all. It was obvious that he would be a key figure in helping us to turn our still rather fuzzy ideas regarding continuing medical education (CME) into reality.
In June 1978 he was invited to become the Honorary secretary of our CME planning committee, and his vast experience guided us through all the hurdles faced by every new organisation. The rapid progress of what’s now known as the Hunter Postgraduate Medical Institute (HPMI) has become the stuff of legend.
The Hunter region will always be indebted to Charles for the enormous amount of work, over and above his Medical school responsibilities, which he put into our now flourishing Institute -arguably the most successful in Australia. Friendship, with Charles Engel, and continuing contact with his brilliant intellect, has always been one of my most treasured possessions. I trust he will continue to delight, and challenge, all of us for many years to come. Happy birthday Charles!
Conjoint Professor Alan D Hewson,
Director of studies, Hunter Post graduate Medical Institute
Assistant Dean , continuing Professional Education
As one of eight foundation professors, almost all of whom had worked but not created a new medical school, I regard Charles Engel as the platform from which sprung the ideas and discipline required for the rapid creation of a completely new curriculum structure, and for then seeing that the medical professors inserted, groomed and evaluated the content and its context. It was no easy task, but the fact we got through says a lot about the teamwork of all participants, with both Maddison and Engel leading a pretty fiesty membership.
Congratulations to you and to Morag for making it all possible, and for staying alive to enjoy it.
Emeritus Professor Saxon W White AM
Joining the innovative and radical medical program at Newcastle in late 1979 was a major shock for my conventionally developed concept of medical education. Getting used to having eight very intelligent young people expose my areas of ignorance/immaturity in their PBL learning spiral was tough enough but producing educational and assessment material that met the standards of Charles Engel et al was even tougher.
It was a privilege to work with the medical education group led by Charles; under his leadership their passionate commitment to modern medical education principles ensured that B Med (Newcastle) was delivered successfully each year and that we continued as we began by not drifting into the comfort zone of conventional medical education.
To this day I carry with me the conviction that true innovation in any aspect of professional life involves a sense of discomfort or uncertainty of the outcome. Fortunately that sense of discomfort was relieved by the confident support from David Maddison, Charles and others who had been there before and had seen it work.
Thank you very much Charles for your role in starting what continues to be a great medical program and for being an internationally respected advocate for innovation in medical education.
Professor Michael J Hensley
Former Dean of Medicine,
The University of Newcastle (2002-2010)