Globalization has led to significant changes in the health care of children worldwide, yet medical education in the developed world has remained domestically focused. Canadian pediatricians are caring for growing numbers of new immigrants, refugees and international adoptees, so their formal training should reflect these changes. Now medical trainees in Canada don’t have to go abroad to improve cultural competency and expand their global health education.
With support from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC), a national team of global child health (GCH) experts working through the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) is the first to create a series of evidence-based educational modules to address a foundational learning gap for residents, pediatricians and health care institutions. The modules are now available in both official languages from the CPS, and include the following key topics: global child mortality, under-nutrition, fever in the returned child traveler, and refugee and immigrant health. The curriculum will be presented today at a luncheon with Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, and the Honourable Beverley Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health.
“Today’s announcement is the accumulation of five years work, and the uptake of the modules across Canada has been amazing to watch. It’s rewarding to see our research efforts put into practice,” said Dr. Jennifer Brenner, a pediatrician at Calgary’s Alberta Children’s Hospital and principal investigator of this GCH research program. “Canada is in position to lead other developed nations by example, for tackling GCH at the residency level and influencing the practice of its future pediatricians and physicians.”
The curriculum is intended for all medical trainees, including those who have no intention of participating in an overseas elective or working outside of Canada. The program objectives were mapped to the existing Canadian core competencies in pediatrics set out by the RCPSC, the national professional association that oversees the medical education of specialists in Canada. Its contents include numerous references, statistics and schematics from the World Health Organization.
“The curriculum can be used by other disciplines that care for children. For example, we’ve already had requests for the modules from family medicine and internal medicine,” explained Dr. Tobey Audcent, pediatrician and research project coordinator based at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and executive member of the Canadian Paediatric Society Global Child and Youth Health section.
“What sets our program apart is that it’s evidence-based and very interactive; which the program directors and residents particularly enjoyed at our study sites,” said Dr. Heather MacDonnell, director of Global Child Health, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, project curriculum lead. “We had investigators at eight pediatric training sites in Canada working on developing this content. We all couldn’t be happier knowing that this curriculum will make such a positive impact on the Canadian health care community!”