Our global impact
One of the priorities of the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM), is to expand our department’s global impact. As one of the world’s largest academic departments of family medicine, we have much to share with the rest of the world. We also have much to learn.
DFCM, especially through the work led by Katherine Rouleau, our Vice-Chair for Global Health and Social Accountability, already has a strong global presence upon which to build. Many of our faculty have shared their knowledge and skills in family medicine with health professional colleagues from many parts of the world, including Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Africa and China.
We can continue to strengthen our contributions even further. I would like to see DFCM become recognized as a global leader in family medicine and a “go to” place for global health organizations, governments and education and research institutions from around the world seeking to strengthen their own academic programs in family medicine.
The World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) is an international not-for-profit professional organization that advocates on behalf of family doctors (family physicians and general practitioners) from around the world and represents family medicine at the World Health Organization. WONCA has developed “Standards for Postgraduate Medical Education” against which residency programs in family medicine can be assessed and accredited, a process considered essential to the further development of quality family medicine across the world. I was privileged to be part of the team that conducted the first accreditation of a family medicine training program against the new WONCA standards at the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University in China.
The University of Toronto has invited WONCA to conduct an assessment of DFCM’s family medicine residency program. We are the first postgraduate family medicine residency program in North America, and the second in the world, to seek global accreditation through WONCA.
To that end, three international leaders in family medicine education, from Asia, Europe and the USA, visited Toronto from June 3-6 this year to conduct the formal accreditation review of our program. The team had a full itinerary as the members wanted to ensure they experienced as much as they could about the depth and breadth of our very large family medicine residency program.
The team’s visit included meeting with faculty and residents at three of DFCM’s academic teaching sites: St. Michael’s Hospital and North York General Hospital in Toronto, and the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. The team also met with the leaders of the Faculty of Medicine’s Postgraduate Medical Education office, all of our DFCM Vice-Chairs and the members of our postgraduate leadership team to learn about all aspects of our residency program, including education and scholarship, quality and innovation, research and advocacy, family doctor leadership, and global health and social accountability.
While we haven’t yet received a formal report and advice about the outcomes of the accreditation visit – both of which we will share publicly when made available - I can advise that the representatives from WONCA expressed positive impressions of our residency program, as well as providing much constructive feedback. They were impressed by the logistics and complexity involved in training nearly 400 residents in family medicine at any one time, and graduating high-quality confident and competent new family doctors prepared to meet the future health care needs of the people of Canada.
The process of undergoing the accreditation process has been a positive learning experience for our DFCM faculty, residents and staff. Those who met with the WONCA team enjoyed the experience of engaging in discussion about the work we do and found it was valuable to learn about how DFCM’s residency program compares to family medicine programs around the world.
I thank all our faculty and residents involved in the accreditation process, including the Chiefs at each of the teaching hospitals visited by WONCA representatives: Stu Murdoch (Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie), Karen Weyman (St. Michael’s Hospital) and David Eisen (North York General Hospital).
I also acknowledge the great work of our DFCM postgraduate program team, including our Vice-Chair of Education and Scholarship, Risa Freeman, Postgraduate Director, Stu Murdoch, and course leaders, Fok-Han Leung, Carrie Bernard, and Vanessa Rambihar, as well as the logistical planning and support provided by our staff members, Elicia Bryant and Mary-Kay Whittaker.
I look forward to announcing the outcome of the accreditation review soon. If successful, this global designation will provide international recognition of our education and training programs for future family physicians, and create opportunities for further exciting international partnerships.
Professor and Chair
Department of Family and Community Medicine