The University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) has made two recent announcements that highlight the global impact of the work of our department and our faculty. First, the designation of our department as the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Care, and, second, the global accreditation of our Postgraduate Family Medicine Residency Program by the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA).
Both of these announcements are significant: this WHO Collaborating Centre is the first in the world to have a specific focus on family medicine, and one of few in the world with a focus on primary care and primary health care. Our family medicine residency program is the first in North America, and only the second in the world, to receive global accreditation from WONCA.
These designations are a tribute to the knowledge, skills and hard work of our faculty, residents, staff and students.
This week, Dr. Katherine Rouleau, DFCM’s Vice-Chair of Global Health and Social Accountability, and I are attending the Global Conference on Primary Health Care, being held in Astana in Kazakhstan, where the world’s leaders are recommitting their nations to strengthening community-based health care services as the way to achieve health for all people in all communities in all nations of the world. At the conference we will be meeting with colleagues from the WHO and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to further develop the workplan for our new Collaborating Centre, and explore new opportunities for global partnerships, both in Canada and around the world.
I thank Dr. Rouleau and her team, including Global Health Program Coordinator Dr. Paula Ruiz, for their efforts in achieving this designation by the World Health Organization. During the WHO application process, we asked to have our entire department designated as the Collaborating Centre. This includes our nearly 1,700 faculty members in community clinics and academic teaching centres across Ontario, along with our 450 residents and graduate students, and all of our staff and interested medical students. Whether we are working to support family medicine education and research with partners in other countries, or working to improve health services for all people, and especially marginalized and vulnerable people in our own communities, our faculty are already making significant contributions to global health both at home and abroad. This designation recognizes your commitment and provides opportunities to expand our work.
I am keen to hear from our faculty who are already involved in work with the PAHO and the WHO, and from those faculty members who are interested in working directly with the new Collaborating Centre.
The accreditation of our residency program by WONCA is further excellent news for DFCM. The WONCA Standards for Postgraduate Medical Education, against which our residency program was assessed, are rigorous and the process demanded significant time, work and planning.
I thank all of our faculty and residents involved in the accreditation process, including the Chiefs at each of the academic teaching hospitals visited by WONCA representatives: Dr. Stu Murdoch (Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie), Dr. Karen Weyman (St. Michael’s Hospital) and Dr. David Eisen (North York General Hospital), our DFCM postgraduate program team, including our Vice-Chair of Education and Scholarship, Dr. Risa Freeman, Postgraduate Director, Dr. Stu Murdoch, and course leaders Dr. Fok-Han Leung, Dr. Carrie Bernard, and Dr. Vanessa Rambihar, as well as our staff members, Elicia Bryant and Mary-Kay Whittaker, who provided essential logistical planning and support.
This accreditation of our residency program would not be possible without the exemplary work of our faculty members across Ontario who are dedicated to the education and mentorship of our residents and medical students. I recognize that each of us is busy with our patients, our practices, our academic work, and the rest of our lives; yet we all recognize the power of education and the satisfaction of knowing that we are supporting the next generation of this nation’s family physicians. This accreditation is proof of the high quality of the teachers we have among our faculty. Thank you all for your commitment and dedication.
Our department's work, knowledge and skills merit being shared beyond the boundaries of our own communities, clinics and teaching hospitals; we have much to share with the world, and much to learn.
Professor and Chair, Department of Family and Community Medicine