residents doctors attend to patient in esim while preceptors supervise
Resident physicians engage in the Educate, Simulate, Innovate, Motivate model of medical education. Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

Aug. 14, 2023

Innovations in family medicine education recognized at UCalgary training centre

South Health Campus Family Medicine Teaching Centre recipient of Outstanding Family Practice Award

An academic teaching clinic managed by the Cumming School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine in partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS), has been recognized by the Alberta College of Family Physicians for delivering outstanding patient care.

This award goes to a clinic or family practice that demonstrates outstanding leadership in the areas of patient and community care while exhibiting excellence in the application of the principles of the Patient’s Medical Home

In addition to providing patient care, the South Health Family Medicine Teaching Centre is a training site for resident physicians and other disciplines in family medicine including nursing, medical office assistant and pharmacy students. Family physicians work alongside allied health providers, such as dietitians, behavioural health providers, and pharmacists to provide care to patients and train the next generation of family doctors. Each resident doctor is supervised by a preceptor physician, and they are assigned a panel of patients to oversee with guidance from the physician for the duration of their training. 

Some of the innovative programs that residents are involved in and get to experience include:

medical resident talking with RN

Dr. Skye McIntosh debriefs a simulation with RN supervisors.

Adrian Shellard

ESIM in medical education  

Dr. Vishal Bhella, MD, and Nancy Hermann, RN, head up simulation in medical education at the South Health site. ESIMs (which stand for Educate, Simulate, Innovate, Motivate) have become an increasingly popular tools in medical education. Using simulated models or real people acting as patients allows residents to experience realistic scenarios in a controlled environment. Resident’s reaction to various medical situations are tested like anaphylaxis management, use of suboxone, and suicide risk assessment.

These simulations provide a valuable opportunity to practice handling complex situations that they may not encounter frequently, but that can have serious consequences if not handled correctly.

As Dr. Skye McIntosh, MD, a second-year family medicine resident explains, “The simulations are very helpful in terms of being presented with a surprising situation that you cannot prepare for and then having to mobilize resources or your knowledge to figure out what to do. But then you debrief, and you get to think back. We don't get a lot of opportunities where you get to sit and talk about what options you had or things you maybe could have done differently. And then you take that forward, and the next time you apply it.”

Dr. Bhella, who supervises and provides feedback post-sim, emphasizes the importance of simulations for encountering rare situations, “Part of the reason we try and do things like this is that there are  certain situations you’ll encounter infrequently in your career. But when you do, you need to know how to manage them.”

Another second-year resident, Dr. Perrin Michalyshyn, MD, highlights the importance of simulations in providing doctors with a safe space to make mistakes and learn from them. He explains, “It’s nice to have a somewhat realistic, but still mock situation where you have a license to make mistakes. You are actually meant to make mistakes so that you can learn from them… so that when the situation is happening in real life, you don’t make mistakes when it matters."

group of staff persons in clinic

A group of staff and physicians at the South Health Family Medicine Teaching Centre.

Adrian Shellard

Anxiety to Calm patient group workshop 

A patient group workshop, Anxiety to Calm, was awarded the CFPC/CPA Collaborative Mental Health Care Award for 2022. This workshop, initially developed by the Red Deer Primary Care Network, is delivered by Dr. Divya Garg, MD, Dr. Melanie Hnatiuk, MD, and Nancy Hermann, RN. It is based on a shared medical model incorporating a multi-disciplinary team of caregivers to deliver self-management education to groups of patients with a chronic medical condition. 

“Being involved in group workshops allows trainees to experience interprofessional collaboration in chronic disease management,” says Garg, director, Academic Patient Medical Home, and clinical associate professor at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). “It really helps them to incorporate patient-centered and team-based approaches in their future practice settings.”

Gender-affirming care  

Another initiative at the clinic, supported by Dr. Jade Goliath, MD, is founded in teaching the concepts of inclusive care in family practice. “Marginalized populations, like the LGBTQ2S+ community, often do not have a protected medical environment for family practice care.” says Dr. Goliath, clinical lecturer at the CSM.  

The aim of the initiative is to expose family medicine residents to gender affirming care early in their training, so they can incorporate it and provide appropriate care as practitioners, improving health care access for gender diverse patients. 

The South Health Family Medicine Teaching Centre has been part of the community for 10 years. Over 6,700 patients are cared for and have a family doctor at the site.

The Department of Family Medicine manages two other academic teaching centres in partnership with AHS, one in central Calgary and one in the city’s northeast. Combined, the clinics provide primary care for over 26,000 patients from Calgary and area.

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