Dr. Nicole Woods
Dr. Nicole Woods is the Director and a scientist at The Institute for Education Research (TIER) at UHN. (UHN)

Dr. Nicole Woods has been selected by the Women's Executive Network as one Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women for 2021.

Dr. Woods is the inaugural Director of The Institute for Education Research (TIER) at UHN – Canada's largest research hospital. She is also the first female member of the Black Community to serve as Director of a research institute at UHN.

The Top 100 Most Powerful Women award recognizes influential women across professional sectors. Awardees have outstanding track records of success and have contributed significantly to the diversity and advancement of women within their organizations, fields of endeavour and communities.

As one of Canada's leading education researchers, Dr. Woods has led a successful program in health professions education for more than 10 years.

"Exceptional education is the foundation of exceptional healthcare," says Dr. Woods, who is also the Richard and Elizabeth Currie Chair in Health Professions Education Research and Associate Director of Operations at the Wilson Centre. "To ensure the next generation of Canada's healthcare professionals are positioned to meet the demands of an ever-changing and complex healthcare landscape, we need to understand how we learn."

By converging principles of human memory and decision-making to optimize medical training, Dr. Woods has revealed how we learn and how this impacts the education of medical professionals. By examining the role of basic science knowledge in clinical reasoning –​ how healthcare professionals make a diagnosis – she was the first to show that novices need foundational sciences in order to learn. Her research has shown that this approach – known as cognitive integration – emphasizes deep understanding and provides the skills needed for successful problem-solving.

Dr. Woods' work was recognized internationally in 2019 when she was named a Karolinska Institute Prize for Research in Medical Education Fellow, and in 2018 when she received the Distinguished Award for Excellence in Teaching and Educational Scholarship from the International Association of Medical Science Educators.

In addition to being a leading voice for innovation in medical education, Dr. Woods is a champion for underrepresented groups in science.

"Simply put, there is room for everyone," says Dr. Woods. "I have a responsibility to bring diverse voices and perspectives to education, healthcare and research."

She is a member of the UHN Research Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Committee, which supports researchers from underrepresented communities and creates policies and practices that support equity and diversity in research.

Dr. Woods has dedicated much of her time to mentoring Black youth and new researchers, and integrating Black health into curricula in partnership with the Black Health Education Advisory Council at the University of Toronto. She has also led the adoption of anti-racism practices in research across the province in her capacity as a UHN representative at the Ontario Hospital Association Anti-Racism Task Force. She has, and continues to be, an inspiring mentor and role model to all those around her.

Congratulations Dr. Woods!

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