ALUMNI PROFILE: Dr. Majka Woods
Vice Dean, Academic Affairs, John Sealy School of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston
Q: What were your first career positions after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees?
A: I wanted to teach in a classroom and was open to any grade and subject. Baylor prepared me well, and my first job with Waco ISD was at Meadowbrook Elementary as their Gifted and Talented teacher for grades K-5. It was fun, fast paced, and I loved the children and teachers. The following year a multi-age — grade 1-2 — classroom position opened at the same school, and I decided to jump in and try it out. I loved it and stayed there for two years.
Q: What made you decide to earn a PhD?
A: After completing my master’s degree, I already had an idea I would like to continue moving forward and work on a PhD. I was still very connected with Baylor and the wonderful faculty while I was teaching at Meadowbrook — teaching in summer programs, working with faculty education research projects, and doing annual teaching trainings as well as attending workshops. My conversations, especially with Susan Johnsen, PhD, eventually led me to apply to the doctoral program that was fairly new in Educational Psychology. I was becoming increasingly interested in the field of adult learning, and the program was encouraging candidates to explore a variety of paths towards degree completion. After considering a number of programs where I was accepted, I decided Baylor was, yet again, a great fit for me!
Q: How did your career move into the medical realm?
A: My career move into medical education was a bit of serendipity! At the time of my doctoral work, our cohorts were small and very well connected. Shortly before I graduated, a graduate from the cohort ahead of me, Amanda Nolen, PhD, called to tell me about a position at the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS) in which I might be interested. At that point I was heavily invested in educational research and program evaluation, very much enjoying mixed methods research in education. I interviewed at UAMS and saw what was, for me, a new and exciting field of educational research I knew nothing about, and the rest is history! My work there then led me down a path of medical education research and teaching.
Q: What exactly does your role at UTMB entail?
A: As Vice Dean of Academic Affairs, I oversee the offices of admissions, student affairs, and educational affairs (which includes instructional management, clinical education, and educational development, educational scholarship, research, and faculty development). I continue to teach both students and faculty, I’m heavily invested in the curricular development of inter-professional education across our campus, and I continue to research a variety of education-based topics focused on adult learners and institutions of higher education.
Q: How did a Baylor education prepare you for roles in medical education?
A: My Baylor education prepared me, quite literally, for every aspect of my current position. I teach, research, drive curricular change, inform both learner assessment practices and program evaluation, and seek ways to innovate within the medical education environment. Baylor gave me the skills and the confidence to try new things, rely on my knowledge base, and to always question and learn more.