Sean Hood

Professor, MB BS W.Aust., MSc Maastricht, FRANZCP

  • The University of Western Australia (M521), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile


Teaching Philosophy

Objectives (to what end?)

The students that I teach in medicine come to the course with many advantages. They are selected from amongst the brightest and most driven university applicants, many have relatives who are medical professionals, and they have largely been successful in previous academic endeavours. Obsessional personality traits and the ability to memorise minutiae are rewarded in their training and are over represented in this group. By the time they reach clinical years medical students are usually strategic learners – they have learnt to rapidly deconstruct PBL and lecture structures to extract the core pieces of information that they believe they need, discarding the rest.

Yet good doctors are something greater than the sum of these parts, and much of their developmental process involves challenging these pre-existing modes of learning and perception. There is an abundance of content available to students these days, but the skills to process and integrate this are less prevalent. Flexibility and critical reasoning are vital in approaching clinical scenarios in which (relatively) diminishing healthcare resources, inequities and regional politics increasingly confound our practice. The ability to take a step back and grasp the meta-issues is a mark of clinical maturity that can be nurtured at a medical student level.

Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) has become both mantra and a misnomer – an axiom of current medical curricula with rare comments on its limitations, political context or consideration of alternatives. A holistic grasp of the medical research process is needed. Trainee doctors need to realise that medical information is a dynamic area with few absolutes, subject to both internal and external demands. Our students often fail to appreciate the extent to which these external forces dictate the content and delivery of lecturers’ material. We work within an imperfect framework with imprecise tools; this is a mirror to clinical realities also. The great risk of this model is to diminish the veracity, relevance and usefulness of our teaching.

Thus, the themes in my teaching philosophy are critical pedagogy, utility, and fidelity. In the first, I seek to challenge student’s habitual ways of perceiving the world and their hunger for content by offering perspectives informed by a grasp of process and the influence of context. In the second, I aim to use my clinical experience to help students assign appropriate weightings to the information available to them. In the third, I endeavour to preserve a high quality of teaching, research and scholarship in the context of external forces that at times work to diminish these.

Methods (by what means?)

Economic pressures are motivating students to demand higher quality teaching and learning, however this can lead to a drive to preferentially provide surface approaches to learning with manifest immediate goals. Deep approaches, encouraging integrated understanding and insight, can have less obvious but more profound impact in the longer term. Issues such as clinical ethics and the societal context of mental illness are examples of themes that benefit from a broad perspective.

This is a canon of modern tertiary education. We would do better to integrate the theory with traditional sources of wisdom such as clinical experience, astute observation, and mastery through repetition and refinement. Consideration of multiple or idiosyncratic methods is frequently indicated. Although the term “Adult Learner” is part of this tertiary educational canon, we are informed that in contrast to non-Adult Learners these students need to be especially motivated to listen to us, that information should be presented to them in easily digestible chunks, that the content needs to be overtly relevant and practical, that they need to be entertained by consideration of multiple modes of delivery, etc. Outside of the teaching context, these are all features of childhood not maturity! Surely we don’t have to infantilise our students in order to effectively engage with them – I endeavour to treat my students as adults with all of the obligations and privileges that come with adult relationships.

I work predominantly in a clinical teaching environment, which has introduced the additional elements of external clinical and service realities. Finding a way to balance such competing demands is an ongoing task of the academic clinician. Striving to maximise the potential of the Evidenced Based Medicine / Problem Based Learning approaches whilst minimising the hyperbole and distortions associated with their common implementations is a long-term teaching goal.

Experimentation, a willingness to consider alternative methods of delivery, and empathy for the student perspective informs my teaching methodology.

Evaluation (to what degree?)

Evaluation of the effectiveness of these occurs on multiple levels. Formal SPOT & SURF questionnaires have some utility. Peer observation of my teaching offers a much-needed alternative perspective, although its implementation needs to be carefully handled. Personal communication with my students & year representatives is a vital resource that continues to educate and at times surprise me. The most important outcomes remain difficult to quantify – including the facilitation of sound medical graduates and professional satisfaction.


I am not afraid to convey the enthusiasm that I have for my discipline to my students. In fact, I hope that it is infectious! We currently have a great need not only to recruit research academic staff into my field but more broadly to ensure that society’s push for more doctors does not lead to a decline of standards (see The Faculty Of Medicine and Dentistry Board Minutes 26/10/04). The recent doubling of local undergraduate medical student places, including graduate-entry options, presents us with new challenges and opportunities. I am passionate about nurturing the development of our medical students and junior doctors.

Students come to my Discipline of Psychiatry with media-fuelled misconceptions, variable interest, and often a little apprehension. A number will find it to be a very challenging on a clinical and personal level, some will struggle with this, and I have increasing sought involvement with such students in my academic and clinical work. My practice is to engage with my students as individuals and as future colleagues to help them with their clinical journeys, and to guide them if they lose their way. Whilst successes are rewarding and necessary it has been my experience that I have often learnt much more from my mistakes. Encouraging students to continue to progress even though they may at times stumble is a primary reason why I teach.

Roles and responsibilities

University of Western Australia
2009- Academic Perceptions of Teaching Environment Committee (APOTE)
2009-10 Member, Academic Board
2008 Executive Committee, Clinical Academics Staff Association (CASA)
(President, 2011+)
Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences
2009- Personal and Professional Development (PPD) Working Group
2009-10 UWA / UNDA Interim Clinical Places Committee
2010- Medical Curriculum Committee (MCC)
2011- MD Curriculum Contents Committee (MDCCC)
2011- Chair, Systems Subcommittee of MDCCC

School of Psychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences
2011 Acting Head of School (August)
2011 Co-ordinator 6th Year MBBS Psychiatry
2004- Undergraduate Teaching Committee
2004-8 Research & Publications Committee
2004-8 Postgraduate Committee
2009 Research, Publications & Postgraduate Studies Committee
2009- Personal and Professional Development Advisor for School
2009- Finance Officer
2009- Chair, Research InnOvation Scholarship Education Teaching Training & CollAboration (ROSETTA) Unit (& Founding Member)

Future research

DBS in Major Depression

Funding overview

• Hood SD, Lind CRP. 2011: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Research Advisory Committee Project Grant. Dual target deep brain stimulation trial for obsessive compulsive disorder – a feasibility study. $AU 29,956

• Thompson PL, Hood SD, Davidson P, Crittenden J. 2010: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Research Advisory Committee Project Grant. Identifying those at risk of developing depression following acute coronary syndrome: A novel screening strategy. $AU 19,994.88

• Hood SD. University of Western Australia, UWA Research Grants Scheme 2007: The role of serotonin in experimental anxiety in healthy volunteers following chronic administration of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor escitalopram. $AU 29970.83

• Hulse G, Hood SD. Assessment of the impact of the smoking cessation policy on the wellbeing of mental health in-patients and the implications for hospital staff. 2007 Mental Health Strategy Funding Special Project Submission. January 2007 $70,951

• Nutt DJ. Raine Medical Research Foundation, 2006 Raine Visiting Professorship $10,000 (Dr Hood successfully applied for this funding).

• Hood SD. Raine Medical Research Foundation, 2005 Raine Priming Grant Awards, 2005-6: Tryptophan depletion in patients with SSRI-remitted anxiety disorders. $AU 118,631.

• Hood SD, Kaye J. University of Western Australia, UWA Research Grants Scheme 2005: Serotonin regulation of the human stress response. (RA/1/485). $AU 18,036.53.

• Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Small Project Grants, June 2003: Tryptophan depletion in patients with panic disorder who have responded to cognitive behavioural therapy. £UK 4,811.

Previous positions

Consultant Psychiatrist
Swan Valley Centre
Eveline Road
Middle Swan
Perth, Australia

Clinical Research Fellow
Psychopharmacology Unit
University of Bristol
Dorothy Hodgkin Building
Whitson Street
Bristol, UK

Current projects

1. Tryptophan Depletion in SSRI- Remitted Generalised Anxiety Disorder Patients (RA/4/1/1193)
2. Tryptophan Depletion in SSRI- Remitted Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Patients (RA/4/1/1193
3. The Hurricane Choir Project: A Community Initiative Promoting Better Health Outcomes in the Aftermath of a Disaster (RA/4/1/1444)
4. An Eight-Week, Multicentre, Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo- Controlled Study, Evaluating the Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of Two Fixed Doses (100 mg and 30 mg Once Daily) of Saredutant in Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (EFC5582)

Teaching overview

1. Examiner
• MB Final Clinical Examination in Psychiatry, Bristol, UK
o June 1999
o January, March, May 2003
• MB Final Written Examination in Psychiatry, Bristol, UK: June 2003
• MBBS 4th Year Clinical Examinations, Perth, Australia: August 2004-
• MBBS Final Clinical Examinations, Perth, Australia: November 2004-

2. Academic Supervision
• PhD Supervisor, University of WA 2006-
o “Philosophical Theories Of Scientific Change - The Case Of Carnap, The Post-Positivists, and the Development of Psychopharmacology” (Hoskens)
• BMed Sci student, University of WA, 2006.
o “Tryptophan depletion in patients with SSRI-remitted anxiety disorders” (Robinson)
o Grade: Honors, First Class
• 4th Year MBBS Science Research & Discovery Supervisor
o Serotonin regulation of the human stress response.
(Cirillo & Robinson)
o “Tryptophan depletion in patients with SSRI-remitted generalised anxiety disorder”
(Forward, Potter & Morris).
o “Tryptophan depletion in patients with SSRI-remitted obsessive compulsive disorder”
(Patton, Rowell & Milne).
• MSc students, University of Bristol 1999.
o Masters Dissertation: Core physical symptoms in social anxiety disorder.
o Literature Review: Dysthymia.
• BSc student, University of Bristol, 2003.
o Dissertation:A post-hoc analysis of Tryptophan Depletion studies in Panic Disorder
3. University Teaching
• Site Co-ordinator Bentley Campus (4th Year MBBS) Psychiatry. 2005-. University of Western Australia, Perth.
• Senior Lecturer (locum), Notre Dame University, Fremantle, Australia 2005-7
• Member, Communications & Clinical Practice Committee (CCP), Notre Dame 2005-6
• Completed Foundations of University Teaching & Learning Course, Semester 2, 2004. University of Western Australia, Perth. (
• Tutor, 2nd Year MBBS students, Semester 2 2004. University of Western Australia, Perth.
• Member, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry Year 3 and 4 Committee 2004. University of Western Australia, Perth.
• Member, Board of Examiners, 2nd & 3rd Yr MBBS. December 2004. University of Western Australia, Perth.
• MRC Psychiatry Part II Course Lectures, Bristol UK
o 30 May 2003: Anxiety Disorders

4. Postgraduate Psychiatric Training
• RANZCP Approved Supervisor (Community Adult Psychiatry) 2004+
• Supervised two RANZCP trainee registrars 2004+


Psychopharmacology of Anxiety Disorders

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research expertise keywords

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Clinical psychopharmacology
  • General practice: psychiatry liaison
  • Mood disorders
  • Medical education


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