Canadian university collaborative one of four worldwide to lead health education reform

Sub-title: 
U of T and its partners chosen to work with prestigious U.S. Institute of Medicine
Author: 
Leslie Church

The University of Toronto, in collaboration with four other Canadian universities, will represent North America as one of only four global innovation collaboratives chosen to work with the prestigious U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) on a project to lead innovation in health education across the globe.

“This is an exciting opportunity for health professions and medical schools across Canada to help lead a global conversation about the ways we can improve health education,” said David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto, and member of the Lancet Commission.  “This was an exceptionally competitive selection process and the strength of our proposal rested on our ability to bring together a diverse group of Canadian partners with experience serving different regions of Canada, as well as Aboriginal, Francophone and inner-city populations.”

The Canadian partnership – called the Canadian Interprofessional Health Leadership Collaborative (CIHLC) – is being led by U of T and consists of the University of British Columbia, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Queen’s University and Université Laval as regional leads, as well as their affiliated networks across multiple sites in Canada, the United States and globally. It is a multi-institutional and interprofessional partnership that includes the faculties and schools of medicine, nursing, public health and programs of interprofessional education (IPE), representing numerous health care professions at each of the five universities. 

The IOM’s Board on Global Health chose the Canadian collaborative as one of four  innovation collaboratives following an international competition among academic institutions around the world. The collaboratives are intended to incubate and pilot ideas for reforming health professional education called for in the seminal Lancet Commission report (2010) and will be a key part of IOM’s new Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education, to be launched in March 2012.

“Emerging societal trends, such as health disparities, the complexity of chronic illnesses, and the movement towards community-centred care are challenging health professionals to find new ways of delivering care and providing collaborative leadership,” said Dr. Sarita Verma, deputy dean of U of T’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.”

Each partner within the Canadian collaborative brings unique and specific strengths in health education and leadership. They have also worked collaboratively in similar types of initiatives and programs across Canada, as well as globally. The focus of the Canadian project is on the theme of collaborative leadership for health system change, transforming health and teaching across Canada and North America with approaches that can be transferable globally.

The leads for the Canadian collaborative are Verma and Maria Tassone, director of U of T’s Centre for Interprofessional Education and senior director of health professions and interprofessional care and integration at the University Health Network. They will be the nominee and alternate, respectively, to the 2012 Global Forum.