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UBC and four other Canadian universities chosen by US to lead health education reform

The University of British Columbia is part of a Canadian collaborative selected by the U.S. Institute of Medicine to develop new models for training health professionals that are better tailored to today’s realities.

The Canadian Inter-professional Health Leadership Collaborative (CIHLC), led by the University of Toronto and including UBC, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Queen’s University and Université Laval, will develop curricula that foster collaborative leadership skills. Three other groups, in Uganda, South Africa and India, were chosen to undertake related projects.

“The choice of a Canadian collaborative to represent North America is a huge honour and a testament to the ground-breaking work that Canada has produced in interprofessional education and collaborative practice over the past decade,” said Dr. Gavin Stuart, dean of the UBC Faculty of Medicine and UBC’s vice-provost, health. “As a key partner in the CIHLC, we are looking forward to collaborating over the next five years to make a difference to health education globally.”

The competition to develop new training programs grew from the Commission on the Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century, an international body launched in 2010 to address gaps in health professionals’ ability to deal with pressing challenges, such as the uneven distribution of health professionals, a mismatch between their competencies and patient needs, a lack of teamwork and insufficient leadership to improve performance.

The commission report, published by the British medical journal The Lancet, prompted the Institute of Medicine, an arm of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, to develop and pilot ideas for reforming health professional education.

“Emerging societal trends, such as health disparities, the complexity of chronic illnesses, and the movement towards community-centered care are challenging health professionals to find new ways of delivering care and providing collaborative leadership,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, deputy dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and associate vice-provost, health professions education.

“That’s why it’s critically important for us to focus on the types of collaborative leadership skills and competencies that students and learners require to effectively work in diverse and culturally sensitive environments.”

UBC’s representative to the Canadian collaborative is Lesley Bainbridge, director of inter-professional education for the Faculty of Medicine. Bainbridge expects the group to develop curricula for both entry-level training and continuing professional education.

“The universities that comprise the Canadian team have an established record of working together to find new models for overcoming educational silos, and doing so in a bilingual context,” Bainbridge says. “This gives us a huge opportunity to be profiled internationally as leaders in inter- professional education and collaborative practice.”

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