Students develop innovative curricula proposals

A second cohort of medical students and residents recently completed an elective called Foundations in Medical and Health Sciences Education, developing curriculum proposals around environmental health, competency-based medical education, and the language of care in chronic illness.

Offered through McGill University’s Institute for Health Sciences Education, the four-week elective was launched by Institute Faculty Members Dr. Stuart Lubarsky and Dr. Robert Sternszus in 2018 as a means of introducing students and residents to health sciences education by having them develop evidence-based curricula with real-world potential.

Stressing that climate change is a global crisis, one group developed an undergraduate medical curriculum on environmental health, and this team is working to try to have elements of their proposal adopted at McGill. The team will be presenting their work at the Ontario Student Medical Education Research Conference (OSMERC) on March 28 in Toronto.

A second group of students developed a curriculum to help train future residents and staff so that they are comfortable applying Competency-Based Medical Education-related assessment, coaching and learning methods.

The third cohort developed a curriculum for first-year residents to facilitate caring conversations with patients, families, and other healthcare providers across the trajectory of chronic illness.

Here is what the students had to say about the one-month elective:


Asli Buykkurt, first year resident, Neurology

“We all had an interest or experience in teaching, but what I didn’t anticipate was this level of professional identity formation – being in the Institute created some sort of shift in all of our careers and sparked a lot of excitement on our end.”


Dr. Maria Helena Correa Salustiano, Fellow, Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

“This course opened a huge window for me when thinking about education in Brazil,” said Dr.Correa Salustiano, who was on a six-month fellowship from Brazil. “I know that I can’t change a whole curriculum, but I know the steps to go through when I go back to change things.”


Olivier Fortin, resident, Pediatric Neurology

“I’ve acquired a lot of skills over the past month that help me move forward not only as a learner, but also as a future teacher and someone involved in policy. It pushes me to do more and do better, and I envision making a career out of it, for sure.”


Charles Fournier, senior resident, Geriatric Psychiatry

“We had something to gain from this class, so we worked in collaboration and it showed. That there was protected time for us was really important and we often don’t have it. We learned so much in four weeks because of that, and we were able to present good work.”


Melisa Gudzio, fourth year medical student

“It’s really been a privilege to have a seat at the Institute where we really felt welcomed and we got to see a hidden perspective of curricula that we are normally living once it’s been created. This course really gave us the tools to take an idea and produce something that can actually be used and implemented.”


Amaar Marefi, second year resident, Pediatric Neurology

“Before going into this course, I had personal goals. I met them by the second week of this course and exponentially gained new knowledge and skills from there. This course really exceeded my expectations. It has marked growth for me on a personal, academic and social level.”


Laurel Walfish, third year medical student

“We didn’t know what we didn’t know before starting this. Even when I try to explain this course to my friends and why they should take it, it’s really hard to put into words. The spirit and devotion to medical education – you really have to be here to understand it. I really do see things differently now.”


Kimberly Wong, fourth year medical student

“Before I started this course, I was a bit nervous because as a junior learner, you’re still exploring your place in medicine, let alone medical education. But the things that I’ve taken away have been multifold in terms of skills, the ability to work with others from different fields, and to be able to grow and learn together. This was a really special opportunity.”


What’s next?

Along with colleagues from the University of Bergen in Norway, Dr. Lubarsky and Dr. Sternszus will deliver a workshop entitled “Educating future educators: Designing and implementing elective courses in health sciences education” at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education in April, 2020.

The Institute is also exploring possible funding opportunities for students in the elective as they implement their proposals and develop careers as health science educators. The third edition of the elective will be offered in November 2020.

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