This week’s Teacher Feature highlights the remarkable Dr. Deborah C. Henry M.D., a Coastline College professor, Department Chair, and a board-certified neurological surgeon. Learn more about her teaching style, which has inspired students to go into various medical fields for over a decade.
Tell us about yourself
Hello! I am a Professor and Biological Sciences and Allied Health Department Chair. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology from Baylor University in 1981 and a Doctor of Medicine (MD) from Baylor College of Medicine in 1986.
Additionally, as a board-certified neurological surgeon, I had the great pleasure of practicing for 20 years. In 1986-1987, my transitional internship was at Baylor Affiliated Hospitals and neurological surgery residency took place at the State University of New York at Syracuse. After, I worked in private practice, as an employed physician, as an academic physician and did locum tenens (traveling neurosurgery in underserved areas).
In 2007, I joined Coastline College as a part-time faculty member and became full-time in 2012.
It was my great honor to receive the following recognition in the recent years: “Teacher of the Year” for Coastline College in 2011; Secretary-Treasurer, Western Neurosurgical Society in 2013 – 2015, and named the first female President of the California Association of Neurological Surgeons.
Apart from my two roles in my department, I am also Academic Senate’s incoming President for the 2019-2020 school year.
What do you love about teaching at Coastline?
I have taught residents and medical students, but the diversity at Coastline makes it a wonderful window into the world and what is happening. As a result, I love learning. If I were able to instill only one thing in all my students, it would be to become a lifelong learner.
Additionally, I love the collegiality at Coastline. Everyone has an open door policy and all opinions are heard.
What is unique about your classes?
All of my classes are unique. For example, I teach an online Anatomy and Physiology introductory class, where my students teach me interesting facts all the time. I also teach a Human Anatomy class to the allied health students, which has no prerequisites. As a result of the no prerequisite, students of all experiences are in my Human Anatomy class.
Additionally, I teach a Human Physiology class, which is the higher demanding allied health class and has very determined students. This semester, I am teaching a Bioethics class, which I just designed. In this class, I am experimenting with an open format, many discussions, journal writing, guest speakers, and ending with the students writing a reflective piece. This is a totally different style of teaching.
What is your teaching approach to engage your class?
I don’t use PowerPoints. I draw on the board and expect the students to draw with me. In Anatomy, we draw out all the structures; in Physiology, we draw out pathways and diagram structure and functions. Studies have shown that we learn better when we write (not type) something down. Some of my students end up with wonderful notebooks of their artwork at the end of the semester.
Tell us something students may not know about you?
For the past 9 years, I have written a monthly column called Brain Waves for our California Association of Neurological Surgeon’s newsletter. I have won a few prizes for my writing.
Moreover, the most obscure fact is that many years ago, I hit a hole in one in golf. My dad played for many years and never accomplished that.
Three tips for Coastline students
It goes without saying, but really try to attend class. One cannot learn everything from a book. You’d miss all my medical stories!
Create a plan or routine that you can follow. Don’t leave your learning to the last minute. Life happens when you procrastinate.
Remember that learning is a lifelong experience. Most of what you have learned, you will forget (I cannot do an integral in calculus anymore). Try to build the foundation so that the next time you are exposed to the material, the learning becomes easier.
About the Teacher Feature series.
Coastline College proudly highlights its renowned faculty through the Teacher Feature blog series. This week’s feature showcases Deborah C. Henry, MD, Professor and Biological Sciences and Allied Health Department Chair. Stay connected with Dr. Henry through her monthly Brain Waves articles. Her articles can be found at California Association of Neurological Surgeons’ website, under publications.