Sherine Salaheldin Hassan Baris | Training to Teach in Medicine

Sherine Salaheldin Hassan Baris


Sherine Salaheldin Hassan Baris enjoys teaching best practices in neonatology to residents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mataria Teaching Hospital in Cairo, Egypt. There, she serves as the Registrar of Neonatology, and in this role, she assesses and treats newborns who are admitted to the unit and often performs life-saving procedures. She is also responsible for teaching and supervising junior colleagues and sharing her extensive wealth of knowledge with them.

“Originally, I worked as a pediatrician, but then I was introduced to the neonatal intensive care unit, and I found that I adore the field of neonatology because it’s so rewarding to be able to save a life and see the results immediately,” explains Baris. And while the grave responsibility was stressful in the beginning, she found it a worthwhile tradeoff. She also now especially enjoys being able to train the next generation of experts, too.

Harvard's Training to Teachers

Her approach to teaching has also recently been elevated, thanks to her participation in Harvard Medical School’s Training to Teachers Program (which has since been renamed to Training to Teach in Medicine and is now offered to a broader audience), where she learned a variety of new techniques and strategies that are helping her train the next generation of medical professionals.

“I did a three-year residency teaching program for an Egyptian fellowship and was ranked in the top ten students, which qualified me for this opportunity to learn from Harvard,” she says. “When the Ministry of Health and Population in Egypt told us the training program would be offered by Harvard Medical School, I couldn’t believe that I would actually be taught by HMS professionals,” she adds.

In fact, Baris is one of a small number of medical professionals selected by the Ministry of Health to participate in this program, which takes a blended learning approach with a combination of self-paced online lectures, interactive live webinars and focused symposia, tutorials and seminars, as well as intensive online workshops.

“The program director is amazing and created a safe and friendly environment for scholars. We all had the opportunity to actively participate and engage in small-group sessions online, and to ask questions in the chat function. A faculty member answered every question posed,” she says. She points out that she came to the program without a formal background in teaching techniques, but the concepts were presented so clearly that they were easy to grasp: “The teachers introduced them and then kept circling back to build on them over time,” she notes.

Teaching an Array of Active Health Care Teaching Strategies 

“What I really liked most about the program is that they taught active teaching strategies and new techniques that are very valuable for me to use to teach other learners,” Baris says. “I can see a big difference in my teaching skills before and after the program.”

She credits this to the fact that each session not only introduced a new teaching technique to the participants, but also had them use it themselves. “Each lesson was a hands-on session, and this helped us become very familiar with the techniques and how they worked before we tried to apply them as teachers with our own learners,” she says.

This enabled the Harvard scholars to truly see the benefits in the approach up front and also to feel very comfortable using it.

Applying Interactive Learning Approaches

Baris found two techniques in particular extremely helpful to apply with her own students:

  1. The flipped classroom technique: “This involves giving us the students the material before the session to prepare so when we come to the course, we are already familiar with it and ready to fully participate, so we can get the most out of the topic,” she says. “I tried this with my own learners. They liked it so much and felt they got real benefit from it,” she adds.
  2. The audience response system: This is software the teachers use during the online workshops to poll the students and find out if the material is resonating. It provides an important way to solicit feedback. “It’s very fun and engaging to give scholars a way to let us know if they are understanding the material,” she points out.

Baris says that while these, and other, approaches have been transformational to her efforts, the biggest takeaway from the program is to try all different teaching styles. “Everyone learns differently,” she acknowledges, so this gives people a chance to find a style that works for them. “I personally like the most active teaching methods. I also use the audience response system to ask if they got it or not. That way I get feedback during the session so I can adjust my teaching to what the learners need,” she says.

“When I teach now and implement the techniques I learned through Harvard, my learners absorb more by interacting, partnering, preparing and testing knowledge of their work as they go along,” she says.

Developing a Capstone Project to Apply On-the-Job

As part of the Harvard program, participants also complete a capstone project that describes an initiative they want to implement in their organizations. For Baris, this is creating a three-month training program for junior residents in the neonatology unit in her hospital. She is close to implementing this plan in her department in the near future.

“I am really honored I had the chance to be part of the Harvard training program,” she says. She also stresses that she recommends the program to others with the ambition to teach medical professionals and help to position them for success in the field. “I want to tell people the program is really different from other teaching programs. They use different teaching methods that will make a big difference for them,” she says.

Since completing the Harvard training program, Baris has continued advancing her education. She is also currently enrolled in Harvard’s Egyptian Clinical Scholars Research Training program and is earning her Medical Doctorate of Pediatrics at the University of Cairo.

Learn more about Training to Teach in Medicine.


Written by Lisa D. Ellis