Dr. Ma has been awarded the 2018 Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award in the Basic Sciences. Faculty are nominated by departments and students, and the recipient is selected by students who have completed the second year.

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Dr. Alice Ma

Alice D. Ma, MD, describes herself as the queen of mnemonics and analogies, explaining difficult concepts in a way that’s relatable.

“I struggled in medical school, and I wanted, beyond belief, for professors to help me understand and parse the vast amount of medical information into an understandable framework. That’s what I like doing for my learners,” said Dr. Ma, professor of medicine and fellowship director for the hematology and oncology division.

Dr. Ma has been awarded the 2018 Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Excellence in Teaching Award in the Basic Sciences. Faculty are nominated by departments and students, and the recipient is selected by students who have completed the second year. The award recognizes the professor who is the most outstanding educator overall in the pre-clinical curriculum.

“Alice recognizes that teaching is just as important to the future of cancer medicine as are research, care delivery and clinical work,” said Dr. Lisa Carey, chief of hematology and oncology. “This award is well deserved and acknowledges the valuable impact she is having on our students, residents and fellows. She is the consummate educator!”

Dr. Ma was also speaker for the UNC School of Medicine Class of 2018 Commencement, selected by the graduating class–which happened to be the first to go through the newly-designed Translational Education at Carolina Curriculum (TEC) that Ma helped developed.

“I spoke to them about their hard work and good nature and resilience and good sportiness, with curricular glitches along the way, and the fact that their seemingly boundless forgiveness of our errors made us all want to be even better educators and doctors and people for them.”

As a teacher, Dr. Ma says she considers herself lucky. She’s been able to see the results of her instruction pay dramatically tangible benefits.

“My proudest moment ever was having a student who’d been on the wards for less than a month, see a critically ill young woman who was having a devastating stroke and understand that the underlying diagnosis was TTP, a rare autoimmune condition affecting the platelets and blood, with manifestations in the brain and kidneys. This student said she remembered my lecture on TTP, was able to recall the key clinical features. She correctly ordered a peripheral blood smear and some other labs and called for a hematology consult. Thanks to this student, the patient survived.”