Dr. Dave Nelson - Taking on Curriculum Leadership

March 30, 2017

For almost eight years, Dr. Dave Nelson has been a familiar face in the Year 2 lecture schedule for not only Northern Medical Program (NMP) students, but for UBC medical students across the province.

As the Week Lead for one of the Musculoskeletal Weeks within UBC’s MD undergraduate curriculum, he heads the curricular content on bone formation and bone healing, in addition to a busy surgery practice and schedule.

“I find that teaching is a two-way street, as it forces you to teach from principles and to stay current,” says Dave. “New learners are constantly challenging you to develop and hone your explanations. I find it rewarding to see our students come away with better knowledge after a lecture week.”


(L-R) Dr. Dave Nelson with Class of 2019's Jarad Plato and Bryn Fell.

The week during which Dave teaches is centred on a clinical case that he personally developed, with a focus on a pediatric femur fracture.

“I was concerned that the case and the learning week were becoming diluted, and that students were not being challenged. However, following my last lecture and case wrap-up, a student came down to discuss the material with me, citing recent research about treatment of hip deformities. We had a great, involved discussion, and it made me realize the strength of case-based education. Interested learners can and will be inspired to answer their own questions with research driven by the case.” 

Dr. Nelson is the only week lead in Year 1 and 2 of the UBC medical curriculum who is from the North, which enables him to share his expertise in both medical content and rural health.

“The distributed curriculum that we have developed at UBC is valuable as so many perspectives can be included,” notes Dave. “If all points of view come from an urban centre, we lose the diversity of knowledge that arises from different experiences and patient populations.”

“I’ve really enjoyed my roles within the NMP, and I appreciate all the support that I’ve had maintaining my involvement within the program.  It takes a lot of significant work to make it all come together. Thank you to everyone!”