Foundations in Medical and Health Sciences Education

Foundations in Medical and Health Sciences Education is a non-clinical elective intended for clerkship students in their 3rd or 4th year of the undergraduate medical curriculum at McGill, as well as for residents and fellows at all levels of postgraduate training. Based in the McGill Institute of Health Sciences Education (Lady Meredith House, corner of Peel and Pine), the elective will be offered on an annual basis in Period 6 of the rotation schedule, which generally falls between November-December of the calendar year. We will accommodate a maximum of 12 students per year, and seek to ensure wide representation across health professions disciplines and stages of training.

Full-time participation in all course activities is expected. Prior to enrolling, students are asked to obtain permission from their program directors to be excused from any competing training commitments (eg. clinics, academic half-days, etc) for the duration of the elective.

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Instructor (s) Information

Course leaders:

  • Robert Sternszus, MDCM, MA(Ed.), FRCP
    Faculty Member, McGill Institute of Health Sciences Education
    Pediatrician, Montreal Children’s Hospital
  • Stuart Lubarsky, MD, MHPE, FRCPC
    Faculty Member, McGill Institute of Health Sciences Education
    Neurologist, Montreal General Hospital

In addition to the course leaders, various instructors from the McGill Institute of Health Sciences Education will facilitate small group sessions on selected topics in health sciences education (see below).

Course Overview
This 4-week immersive elective is intended to expose students and residents to the broad field of health sciences education. Through interactive lectures, group discussions, individual and group projects, and participation in the activities of the Institute of Health Sciences Education and other faculty-led educational initiatives (eg. faculty development workshops), learners will develop essential knowledge and skills in curriculum design, teaching and learning, assessment, program evaluation, and educational research and scholarship.

(For learners wishing to focus chiefly on research in medical education, the Institute of Health Sciences Education offers a separate elective (Scholarship in Medical Education) during which participants will have the opportunity to develop a scholarly project in medical education under the supervision of selected members of the Institute.)

Learning Outcomes
By the end of this 4-week elective, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe fundamental principles of teaching, learning, assessment, and scholarship in health sciences education.
  2. Design a curriculum or educational program related to health sciences education.
  3. Transform an idea or problem in health sciences education into a researchable question and conduct a literature review relevant to that question.
  4. Present ideas and lead classroom discussions effectively.

Instructional Method
This 4-week project-based course will centre around the creation of a program or curriculum in health sciences education. Students will be working in small groups to complete the project. Each week of the course will have project milestones that must be met, and all formal teaching sessions during that week will be designed to help the learners achieve those milestones. Students will present their projects to Institute members during week 4 of the course. In a separate assignment, students will learn how to ask pertinent and answerable research questions in health sciences education, and to apply this skill toward their own curricular designs (see Appendix 1) for descriptions of the course assignments).

Additional learning activities include:

  • Attendance at the Institute meetings and Health Sciences Education rounds
  • Direct observations of teaching in different settings (Simulation Centre, lectures at McIntyre, clinical teaching, etc.)
  • Participation in faculty-led educational initiatives (eg. faculty development workshops)
  • Suggested readings
  • A significant portion of time will be devoted to group and individual work on the two course assignments (see below)

Required Course Materials
None. However, a list of suggested resources is provided in Appendix 2.

Course Content
General themes and topics of the course include:

  • Introduction to Foundations
  • Learning theories
  • Curricular mapping and alignment
  • Needs assessment
  • Writing learning outcomes
  • Teaching in simulation environments
  • Effective lecturing
  • Effective teaching in clinical settings
  • Feedback and coaching
  • Expertise development in health professions education
  • Innovations in health professions education
  • Implicit bias, equity and diversity in health professions education
  • Teaching and learning in an interprofessional context
  • Principles of assessment
  • Principles of program evaluation
  • Research and scholarship in health sciences education
  • Developing a research question
  • Methodologies in health sciences education research
  • Searching the literature
  • Knowledge translation
  • Competency-based education

For each student, an Elective Assessment Form (EAS) will be completed based on his or her performance in the following areas:

  • Group project: Written paper describing their curriculum/program and the educational principles that underlie it
  • Group presentation: Presentation of their curriculum/program to the Institute members
  • Individual project: Written abstract describing how they have transformed an idea or problem in health sciences education into a researchable question, and how they would address it
  • Participation/peer-assessment

Please refer to Appendix 1 for detailed descriptions of the course assignments.

Course Evaluation
Students in the course will be asked to fill out a course evaluation focused on the overall usefulness of the course, as well as on its individual components, upon completion of the course. We will also seek feedback from students on an informal basis throughout the duration of the course.

Contact Information
Senior Administrative Coordinator, Electives Program Coordinator
Institute of Health Sciences Education, McGill University
1110 Pine Ave West, Rm 205
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A3 [at]


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