In 2013, Prof Awie Kotzé, the dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, had the strategic vision to promote excellence in teaching and learning in the faculty. He took the initiative to appoint a higher-education specialist with a health-sciences background in the dean’s office. This single appointment developed into a Health Professions Education office over the next three to four years, and in 2018 the Centre for Health Professions Education (CHPE) was established. Currently the CHPE is run by only four full-time staff members (three academic, one support), with scope for expansion in the near future. 

As the focus on quality teaching and learning at the NWU and the Faculty of Health Sciences increased, the value of the CHPE became more apparent. Through the CHPE, there was a refocusing on innovative and quality teaching and learning in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Higher education and health sciences were aligning, and the nexus between teaching and research was filled through a dedicated drive towards the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

The CHPE is unique in the sense that it has the scope and function of a school, a research entity and a faculty development unit at the same time. Undergraduate teaching, postgraduate teaching, research and faculty development are all part of the responsibilities of this centre. The aim of the CHPE is to enhance innovative teaching and learning in health professions education and the research in this field through the professional development of lecturers.

A significant part or the CHPE’s year plan involves faculty development activities such as needs-specific workshops, training seminars and consultations. Lecturers are encouraged and supported to engage in SoTL research, and a number of publications and conference proceedings have already resulted from this movement. 

The CHPE is also actively involved in NWU-driven quality-enhancement and innovation projects, working closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL).