FMHS committed to creating an inclusive learning environment

Dr Maria Christodoulou was recently appointed as the faculty’s relational coach.

As part of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science’s ongoing commitment to changing its campus culture, Dr Maria Christodoulou was recently appointed as the faculty’s relational coach. She has been tasked with helping to create a social learning environment that is inclusive, transformative and culturally competent; one that acknowledges individual and collective humanity and fosters a deep sense of belonging and acceptance for all. 

Christodoulou completed her MB,ChB at this faculty in 1990 and also obtained a diploma in practitioner coaching in 2005. She has worked extensively in both the public and private sector, initially as an integrative medical practitioner and subsequently as a health, wellness and leadership coach. She combines her medical training and coaching skills with a wealth of knowledge of different healing traditions and theories of relational psychology, identity construction and human development. 

Her practice includes coaching individuals with cancer and chronic diseases, facilitating health and wellness-related workshops, and serving as lecturer and coach in the Division of Family Medicine and Primary Care, where she designed and implemented a postgraduate certificate course in Integrative Medicine in 2009. Christodoulou is also a faculty and advisory board member of The Coaching Centre and supervises and mentors both medical and coaching colleagues and students. 

In the past few years, she has focused primarily on coaching both individuals and teams of medical specialists in the public health sector, with an emphasis on leadership, resilience and equipping agents for change. Her combination of medical skills and extensive coaching experience afford her substantial insight into the complex challenges faced by health professionals in our context today. This, along with her passion for social artistry – which seeks to bring new ways of thinking, being and doing to social challenges in the world – makes her uniquely qualified to assist the faculty in its commitment to transform the lived experience of students and staff on the Tygerberg campus. 

In the next few months, Christodoulou will be meeting with various stakeholders (students as well as academic and support staff) and facilitating coaching conversations with individuals and groups across multiple levels of the faculty. She will employ coaching methods, tools, skills and practices to support and guide the faculty in attaining new levels of social, emotional and relational intelligence.

“I believe this will go a long way towards bridging the numerous divides among us and, more importantly, will offer us new ways of thinking, being and doing in relation to one another,” says Prof Jimmy Volmink, Dean of the FMHS. 

If you would like an opportunity to talk to Maria about your experiences or to share with her your ideas and perspectives on our campus culture, please contact her on mchristo@sun.ac.za or 083 459 9736.
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