Feature: Passion for teaching fuels student success

By Alexandra Burza, MMJC'19

Dr. Tyceer Abouhassan’s obvious love of learning and teaching is apparent in every line of his CV.

The former high school teacher-turned-endocrinologist holds undergraduate degrees in biology, classical languages and multicultural studies, as well as a graduate degree in education.

“Once I became a teacher, I realized it was always the same; the knowledge wasn’t expanding, a cell remains a cell. In medicine, things are changing so fast, there’s always new information to learn and apply,” Abouhassan said.

After attending medical school at the University of Ottawa and completing a fellowship in internal medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Abouhassan returned for another in endocrinology — while simultaneously earning his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business.

Abouhassan knew he would not be leaving his teaching days behind when he moved back to his hometown of Windsor to open his endocrinology practice.

“Whether it’s in your office, the hospital or the classroom - you’re always teaching as a physician,” he explained. “Receiving and imparting knowledge is intrinsic to medicine.”

At the Windsor Campus, he is the coordinator of the PGY2 Endocrine & Metabolism courses. Throughout the years, his courses have received consistently positive feedback from students, praising his engaging and entertaining approach to the subjects he teaches.

“At this point, endocrinology has really exploded in terms of knowledge; there’s new research, treatments and technology all the time,” he said.

In 2018, Abouhassan was recognized with the School’s Award of Excellence in Medical Education.

He believes the key to student success lies in properly engaging them in the learning process. He says a great teacher knows their audience, which means understanding what makes your subject exciting to your students, and showing them how it’s relevant to what they want to pursue within medicine.

Sometimes, keeping things exciting for students means engaging in some friendly competition. Abouhassan holds motivational contests for his students each year, complete with different challenges and corresponding prizes. Reaching a certain class average on an exam, for example, earns his students an ice cream cake.

In addition to the satisfaction of facilitating and witnessing student success, Abouhassan says he finds it rewarding to continuously push himself as a learner, as curriculum and content keep evolving.

“Although it’s difficult to teach a new class sometimes, or prepare a new online program, by the time I’m done, my knowledge in that area has really expanded,” he explained.

This year, his courses will be taught virtually for the first time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the challenges of translating in-person learning for an online format, Abouhassan says he considers this as an opportunity to prepare his students with skills to be successful self-directed learners, both for their new learning environment and throughout their careers.

“That’s what keeps medical education exciting for me, now the new challenge is how to deliver this new information with this new technology while still keeping students involved. It keeps you on your toes.”