Social, Political and Scientific Issues in Family Medicine



The seminar series is intended to be a loosely organized forum where participants can analyze, sythesize and evaluate presentations on a wide variety of social, political and scientific issues that directly or indirectly influence primary care. An example of “social” factors would be: socioeconomic disparity in Ontario or globally. An example of “political” factors would be: the health care system in Ontario. An example of “scientific” factors would be: controversial areas in the medical literature. It is important to note that the seminar series is not intended to cover clinical topics per se unless such a presentation emphasizes the scientific debate around a particular clinical topic. An in-depth study of Ian McWhinney and Thomas Freeman’s acclaimed Textbook of Family Medicine is scattered throughout the year. 


For participants to analyze, synthesize and evaluate presentations on a variety of social, political and scientific issues in primary care and in doing so broaden their understanding of the forces that influence one’s ability to provide quality health care in Ontario, Canada and the rest of the world.


In general, each weekly 3-hour block will consist of 2 lecture / “seminars” (one from 9-1030am, and one from 1030am-1200pm) that may or may not be directly related.  The course will run over two terms. Students are required to attend a total of 40 seminar topics. Each seminar is to be arranged by the instructor or a course participant and will either be a presentation given either by that person or an invited speaker. The presentation should be designed so that plenty of time is allowed for questions and discussion. Each participant will be responsible for the specific course curriculum (content).  Students will collaborate with the instructor in developing the specific content and it's implementation. This involves: deciding on topics for discussion as a group, taking responsibility for inviting speakers (participants or invited guest speakers) and organizing the logistics of scheduling. Each participant may make several presentations throughout the course. Each participant must write a short report reflecting on his/her experience in the course and documenting all seminars attended.


Each participant is expected to attend 40 “seminars” (remember that in general, every Wednesday morning consists of 2 “seminars”). This course is graded pass/fail. In order to pass the course, each participant must fulfill the following requirements to the satisfaction of the instructor:

  1. Attend scheduled seminars regularly and promptly. Attendance will be kept. Anyone arriving more than 10 minutes late for a seminar cannot count that seminar as "attended."
  2. Attend a minimum of 6/10 “McWhinney” chapter sessions
  3. Participate actively in planning and organizing seminars
  4. Participate actively in the group discussion
  5. Document the dates and titles of the 52 “seminars” attended as described above and submit to the instructor before the applicable deadline.
  6. Write a final 3 page (double-spaced) reflection on the seminar(s) that had the most impact on you and submit to the instructor before the applicable deadline.

Reading(s): Thomas R. Freeman. 2016. McWhinney's Textbook of Family Medicine, 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.



Participants must be licensed in a recognized health profession or a senior trainee therein.