Students and residents design curricula in innovative new elective

As 2018 drew to a close, the first cohort of six interdisciplinary students and residents completed an innovative new elective called Foundations in Medical Education. Elements of their final projects are receiving interest from curriculum developers heading into 2019.

“This elective has us thinking about our future careers, and thinking about the kind of doctors we want to be,” said Ihab Kandil, a fourth-year medical student. “It opened up the possibility for us to be clinician-educators, and clinicians who have an interest in medical education scholarship.”

Offered through McGill University’s Centre for Medical Education, the four-week elective was created by core Centre faculty members Dr. Stuart Lubarsky and Dr. Robert Sternszus, who designed the course to introduce students and residents to medical education by having them develop evidence-based curricula with real-world potential.

From clinical problems to curricular solutions

Students and residents formed two teams and were tasked with designing curriculum proposals to address problems faced in clinical settings that can be partially addressed through effective medical education.

One student team developed a “cultural competency” curriculum for pediatrics residents designed to train practitioners in cultural sensitivity. This curriculum was developed in the context of increasing diversity in Canada and the need for clinical practitioners to adapt to evolving patient cultural experiences and worldviews.

The second team stressed a recent increase in opioid poisoning and mortalities and rising opioid prescriptions, designing a postgraduate curriculum proposal that would familiarize learners with pain management and safe opioid prescription practices.

“It’s absolutely amazing to see what they’ve been able to accomplish in four weeks,” said Dr. Sternszus.

Student projects culminated in presentations to members of the Centre for Medical Education in late December, where Centre members provided collegial feedback and discussed possibilities for curriculum implementation at McGill University.

“You can see how rich the fruits of their labour were from this course,” said Dr. Lubarsky. “We’re really hoping that they continue with this enthusiasm in their careers in education, and that they’ve come away with something tangible that can be implemented in their given programs.”

Fostering an interprofessional community of practice

This first cohort expressed a shared appreciation for the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration, and many of the students applied course material to their real-world clinical settings.

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Dr. Natasha Qureshi, a fourth-year general internal medicine resident. “It was a great opportunity to meet people from other specialties. We normally don’t have that opportunity.”

Dr. Mohammed Ashour, a second-year resident in pediatric neurology, said he wanted formal teacher training because he intends to become a medical education teacher, and his colleagues said the course had immediate impacts on their work.

“I learned a lot that I can actually implement even when just supervising a medical student, and also have bigger ideas about curriculum development and evaluation,” said Dr. Samar Hamdan, a fourth-year pediatrics resident. “This elective reshaped my future decisions and career choices.”

Dr. Marie Fournier, a fourth-year resident in psychiatry, expressed similar sentiment about the immediate utility of the course, given her work as a teaching fellow at the Jewish General Hospital for students doing rotation in psychiatry.

“I got interesting ideas of how I could improve my work from this elective, and that’s something I liked,” Dr. Fournier said.

“I clearly remember coming in the first day and feeling like I didn’t know anyone or anything, and in the end we were able to produce something that exceeded expectations. We’re really proud of that,” said Dr. Justina Guirguis, a second-year resident in dermatology.

Like all good curriculum developers, Dr. Sternszus and Dr. Lubarsky conducted a post-course evaluation and will engage with students and residents going forward.

Next year, their goal is to have a diverse cohort from medical subspecialties and other health professions like nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and others.

The elective is being offered on an annual basis in Period 6 of the rotation schedule, which generally falls between November-December of the calendar year.

Click here for more information on the course.



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