University of Ottawa physician launches first-ever refugees and global health e-learning program

Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2012

All Canadian medical students, residents and practitioners now have full access to an innovative Web-based tool to enhance their understanding of medical care for refugees and new Canadians.

Conceptualized by Dr. Kevin Pottie, family physician at the Bruyère Academic Family Medicine Centre and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, the Refugees and Global Health e-Learning Program is the first online tool of its kind in Canada to follow the new medical education guidelines under the Canadian Medical Education Directives (CanMEDS). The tool uses seven online modules, including real case scenarios, video footage and practical questions designed to guide learners through training that gives them the knowledge and skills they need to excel in global health.

“Refugees and Global Health is an internationally unique, competency-based e-learning program,” says Dr. Pottie. “Caring for patients around the world requires more than just knowledge of tropical medicine. The e-learning site gives students the chance to learn more about refugees and to recognize pitfalls and global health issues.”

Modules and podcasts cover neonatal tetanus, suicide, domestic violence, malaria and post-traumatic stress disorder. Global health experts challenge the learner and provide practical reflections by linking users to recent evidence-based migrant-health guidelines and to other readily available resources, all at the click of a mouse. The goal of the program is to prepare learners for a rewarding career in the emerging discipline of global health.

Drs. David Ponka and Doug Gruner, both Bruyère Family Medicine Centre physicians, also contributed to the project and are featured in the modules. Providing quality patient care to refugees and new Canadians is at the forefront of their Bruyère Clinic and the partner Wellness Centre at the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, which see 800 newcomers each year. Dr. Ponka also leads the uOttawa Department of Family Medicine Global Health Program and oversees two medical missions a year to the remote village of Kankintu in Panama.

“The Global Health Program strives to eliminate health discrepancies at home and abroad while exposing residents to the realities of working in the area of global health,” says Dr. Ponka. “Family physicians are uniquely positioned to make a difference, and through this unique e-learning tool we will further enhance those working in a global-health capacity and educate those interested in pursuing a career in that field.”

The Refugees and Global Health e-Learning Program was presented at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education April 14 to 18 in Banff. This year's conference theme was Global Health and Medical Education: Beyond Boundaries.

The Department of Family Medicine at the University of Ottawa is a national leader in family medicine achieved through the delivery of excellent education, primary health care research and advocacy in favour of primary care medicine.

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