News at Medicine - July 2020 - Recognized for her inspiration

Recognized for her inspiration
July 6, 2020
Dr. Michelle Ploughman has been awarded the Rhodes Inspirational Educators Award.
A Canada Research Chair (Tier 2), Rehabilitation, Neuroplasticity and Brain Recovery and associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, Dr. Ploughman was nominated by MD learner Matthew Downer whose connection to her lab started in 2014 and has continued throughout his education.
From his nomination letter: “Dr. Ploughman has devoted her life to improving the lives of people with disabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL), while simultaneously producing research with global impact. I learned the basics of clinical health research and academic medicine, but also how to understand and listen to patients’ problems and limitations, and use scientific rigor to make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives… Dr. Ploughman is the rare type of mentor who excels in seeing potential in students far beyond what they see in themselves, and places utmost priority on their personal and professional success... This focus on creating a community in an academic environment, with a strong focus on students’ development and wellbeing, is the true sign of an inspiring educator.”
Training the next generation of scientists and research-minded clinicians is one of Dr. Ploughman’s top priorities. But, she says, supervision and mentorship are not about ‘thank-you notes.’ “Many times as a supervisor you have to deal with the highs and the lows; the celebrations and the conflicts. That is life and every student has their own unique way of approaching their education journey.”
Downer, who is a 2019 Rhodes Scholar, completing a year at the University of Oxford, says Dr. Ploughman was the ultimate mentor. It’s a responsibility she takes very seriously, having taken numerous educational sessions over the years to improve her supervisory and mentorship skills.
I always thought that Dr. Ploughman gave me such a wonderful opportunity early in my studies and saw potential in me before I had any belief I could ever succeed to become a clinician or a researcher,” he noted.
Downer went on to say that Dr. Ploughman helped him discover a passion for rehabilitation medicine and that he’s inspired by how Dr. Ploughman brings her work from science in the lab to people in need in the community.
For Dr. Ploughman, it’s the students’ success that ultimately motivates her. “In some small way I have played a part in these students' successes. I prioritize the training of undergraduates and graduate students. With my current group of one post-doctoral fellow, four PhD students, six masters, four medical students and five undergraduates, I probably have one of the busiest labs in the Faculty of Medicine. I love it.”
The Rhodes Trust Inspirational Educator Award was launched in 2016 as a way of recognizing unsung heroes in education. Rhodes Scholars were invited to nominate exceptional mentors who influenced their lives before they received their Rhodes Scholarship, largely recognized as the world’s most prestigious international scholarship. This award