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Graduate Certificate in Chronic Pain Management (online learning)

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Currently accepting applications for Fall 2022

Chronic pain management is a major and growing challenge for patients, healthcare professionals, and the global healthcare system. In order to improve health services for people with chronic pain evidence-based clinical practice delivered by knowledgeable health care professionals at all levels is necessary.

In this program, the learner will acquire a theoretical knowledge base in the most recent evidence-based neuroscientific and behavioural perspectives of chronic pain, develop advanced practice skills in the evaluation and assessment of chronic pain conditions and learn how to manage common clinical chronic pain conditions with an interdisciplinary perspective and using the biopsychosocial approach.

This certificate is an ongoing collaboration between the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and the Alan Edwards Center for Pain Research to consistently provide health care professionals with the latest and most relevant approaches, skills, and technologies in the care and management of chronic pain from basic science to human care.

This certificate program is offered in both French and English.

Who should apply?

This online program is appropriate for professionals from medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacology, physical therapy, psychology and related disciplines. The post-professional program was designed for busy healthcare professionals, providing the freedom to manage their work-life balance.  View student demographics and testimonials to learn more.   


Courses (15 credits)

The certificate program consists of five courses, each providing 3 credits.

The content has been carefully designed to align with five major themes of chronic pain management: the multidimensional nature of chronic pain, assessment, intervention, conditions, and interdisciplinarity. Each of these themes is a pillar to support the learners’ evolving expertise in the management of chronic pain towards improved patient/client care. The program content addresses these themes individually or in parallel. This certificate in chronic pain management aligns with the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Interprofessional Pain Curriculum Outline.

The online educators and interdisciplinary learners interact via online forum discussions, video assignments, and other platforms. These all provide the opportunity to compare experiences and problem solve real clinical problems in addition to interacting with the learning material.

The final, elective course, provides the opportunity to build upon and complement the previous course content in a personalized way by pursuing a topic area of interest.

Courses are offered in French and in English, view the list below for details of each course.

POTH663-Pain Assessment in Clinical Practice

This course will assist learners in developing approaches to the global assessment of patients with pain (acute and chronic) and to guide diagnostic, care and treatment. This will include conventional health assessment techniques (interview and physical examination), pain measurement tools, psychological assessment, specific techniques (e.g. examination of lumbar spine, functional assessments), and the role and value of diagnostic studies.

Lecturers: Lesley Norris, MSc, PT; Maria Dritsa, PhD Psychology; Celine Gélinas, RN, PhD; Sara Saunders, PhD, OT; Dr. Mark Ware, MD, MRCP (UK)

POTH664-Neuroscience and Behavioral Perspectives of Pain

This course is designed to review the basic neuroscience of pain and the interrelationship between psychological, physiological and environmental processes in pain perception. Neuro-anatomical, physiological, pharmacological, and biochemical mechanisms involved in nociception are presented. The contributions of psychological factors such as mood and cognition, as well as environmental factors are examined as contributors to the pain experience. Conceptual paradigms are introduced that allow integration of the biomedical and psychosocial factors to understand the pain experience. These lead to an understanding of how psychological and environmental factors can modify or maintain pain perception and behavior and how these might be modified to manage the pain experience.

Lecturers: Lesley Norris, MSc, PT; Robert Dykes, PhD, Physiology; Matthew Hunt PT, PhD; Sara Saunders OT, PhD; Timothy Wideman PT, PhD

POTH665-Interdisciplinary Management of Chronic Pain

This course will explore the different approaches to treating chronic pain, current available evidence on their efficacy, side-effects, ethics, and their costs to the individual and the healthcare system. Management through pharmacology, procedural interventions, psychological approaches, functional rehabilitation, and different alternative therapies will be reviewed. 

Lecturers: Kimberly Smalridge PT; Sara Saunders OT, PhD; Lesley Norris Singer PT, MSc; Maria Dritsa, PhD Psychology; Dr. Mark Ware, MD, MRCP (UK); Dr. Jordi Perez MD, PhD, FIPP; André Bussières DC, MSc, PhD, FCCS; Celine Gélinas, RN, PhD; Melissa Richard-Lalonde N, PhD(c) 

POTH666-Common Clinical Pain Syndromes

This course explores specific pain conditions, their incidence, prevalence, and their underlying mechanism.  Clinical presentations of these conditions will be discussed as well as some general management strategies.

Lecturers: Kimberley Smalridge, PT; Krista Brecht RN, BScN, MScN(A); Amir Minerbi, MD, PhD,; Terrence Coderre, MSc, PhD,; Janet Holly PT, MSc; André Bussières DC, MSc, PhD, FCCS' ; Richard Preuss PT, PhD,; Dr. Jordi Perez MD, PhD, FIPP; Erin Cox BMR PT, FCAMPT, CCTT, MCPA; Lesley Norris SInger PT, MSc; Susan Tupper, BScPT, PhD; Michael Sangster, BScPT, MBA; Valérie Calva, OT; Interdisciplinary Pediatric Chronic Pain Program, Montreal Children's Hospital; Maria Dritsa, PhD Psychology;  Kathryn J. Gill, PhD
 .

The Elective Course Options

The elective provides you with a unique opportunity to build upon and compliment the course content in a personalized way by pursuing a topic area of interest. This could be done by transferring learning to a practical clinical setting, exploring a topic of interest in more detail, or taking an additional, graduate university-level course, from McGill or elsewhere, to enhance your understanding of chronic pain management.

*POTH603-Directed Practicum: This is a tutorial with directed practical experience in a clinical setting related to the student's clinical specialization, including curriculum development, and emphasizing current thought in rehabilitation. See previous years examples here.

*POTH618-Topics in Rehabilitation: This is a directed reading course on a topic in rehabilitation science. The student will acquire extensive knowledge in the topic of interest and understand the strengths and limitations of the current body of work in the area. See previous years examples here.

*Another 500-level or higher course (online or not) approved by the Director of Graduate Programs 

*Another 3 credit graduate level course (online or not) from a different university, as approved by the Director of Graduate Programs


Program Details

Steering and Curriculum Committee

The steering and curriculum committees include eminent scientists, healthcare professionals, and scholars.  

  • Maria Dritsa, PhD, Psychology
  • Robert Dykes, PhD, Physiology, Professor Emeritus
  • Céline Gélinas, RN, PhD
  • Lesley Norris, MSc, PT
  • Sara Saunders, PhD, OT
  • Kimberley Smalridge, PT
  • Dr. Mark Ware, MD, MRCP (UK)
  • Timothy Wideman, PhD, PT
  • Isabelle Gélinas, PhD, OT, Director of Graduate Programs 
  • Monica Slanik, BSc(Bio), BSc(OT), Program Manager 

Current contributors to the various courses are clinicians specialized in chronic pain management and leading experts from the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and the Alan Edwards Centre for Research on Pain. View listing of contributors under each course above.

Program Length

The four core courses are taken in the fall and winter semesters, the elective course can be taken during the fall, winter, or summer semester. As most students are working clinicians, it is recommended to take one course per term. With this recommended plan, the program will take 2 – 2.5 years to complete.

For those who are interested in completing the program earlier, we do offer a fast track option where certain courses can be taken as two per semester, thus completing the program in 1 - 1.5 years. 

Each course is one academic semester (13 weeks); with 2-3 hours per week of formal instruction plus 3-5 hours per week for assignments, readings, and work-integrated learning activities.

The ideal trajectory is to start with the first course in the Fall of each year. Students may start in the Winter however if this path is chosen, some review of foundational concepts prior to this first week of classes may be required.

Have more questions? Please see Frequently Asked Questions in menu.

Admission Requirements and Application Process

A Bachelor of Science degree or equivalent in a health related discipline from a university or recognized institution is required to apply to this graduate program. Visit admissions for online graduate certificates for a full list of required documents and step by step process.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fee calculator is found here. At this link, you will find tuition costs and fees per semester. These fluctuate based on annual adjustments to the fees and charges. 

*Please note that international students may opt out of paying the International Health Insurance. 

Required Technology

You will need a personal computer with Internet access. 


Professional Benefits

  • Enhance your knowledge base in the most recent neuroscientific and behavioural perspectives of chronic pain
  • Acquire advanced practice skills in the evaluation and assessment of chronic pain conditions
  • Learn and apply evidence-based multi-modality treatments for diverse client populations
  • Appreciate roles and responsibilities of interdisciplinary team members
  • Develop a network of professionals and leaders in the field of chronic pain management
  • Acquire graduate certificate degree credentials from the top-ranked university in Canada

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Apply this program to your continuing professional development portfolio, contact us for details per profession. 

The completed certificate program courses qualify towards credentialing for the Canadian Academy of Pain Management (CAPM),  logo for the CAPMvisit www.canadianapm.com/credentialing.html for more information.

Learn about the program from our students

Screenshot of Clinical Psychologist mid speech

Clinical Counselor and Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant

Nurse clinician in interview scene

A Nurse Clinician Perspective  

A Pharmacist Perspective 

Screenshot of Physiotherapist mid speaking

A Physiotherapist Perspective 

Contact us

Program Student Affairs Coordinator will be pleased to assist you at 514-398-4400 ext 0432 or gradcertificates.spot [at] mcgill.ca 

Sign up for regular curriculum, research and other updates.

Attend an information session and ask questions. 

 

Please note: McGill University reserves the right to make changes to the certificate, content and services as it deems necessary.

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