Department of Family & Community Medicine

Chair's Message

Education Scholarship at DFCM 

Dear colleagues,

If you attended this year’s Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) or Society of Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM) conference you may have noticed a large contingent of University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) faculty, residents and their colleagues presenting posters, workshops and oral presentations. Our faculty were responsible for 26 presentations at STFM and 59 at CCME. This is a wonderful turnout and is due in no small part to the efforts of DFCM’s Office of Education Scholarship.

Led by Vice-Chair Risa Freeman, the Office of Education Scholarship (OES) was established to build education scholarship capacity across DFCM by developing a community of practice, building the capacity of faculty to undertake education scholarship projects and enabling a culture of recognition and support. I am pleased to see they have had yet another successful year of doing just that.

Three years ago, the OES established the Art of the Possible (AOP) Education Grant Program, which provides seed grants to support program-based education scholarship projects. The AOP program provides support and guidance for faculty members who would like to be involved in education scholarship and identifies faculty members who have an interest and aptitude to carry their work beyond the internal DFCM grant offerings.

Thus far, ten AOP projects have been completed, eight projects are near completion and nine are ramping up. Currently, the fourth cycle is underway, and the successful applicants will soon begin work on their projects. Topics range from feedback and evaluation on various DFCM programs, to curriculum and program design, to e-learning and much more. So far, 63 faculty members, 11 hospital sites and all of DFCM’s programs have been involved in at least one project. These projects have also led to 26 local, six national and eight international presentations (posters, workshops, oral presentations) and several publications (including by Dr. Megan Landes available here and here). We recently profiled Dr. Rick Penciner’s ESSENCE Program, and its focus on basic education scholarship skills. It is evidence of the effectiveness of that course that two ESSENCE students have gone on to obtain AOP grants.

At every step of the way, the OES supports faculty with their scholarship projects, from design to implementation and dissemination. This support includes a unique Team Model for consultations that partners an MD Education Scholarship Lead and a PhD Education Scientist to provide input that is grounded in both the science and practical needs and realities of the project. The OES has a skilled team of consultants: Drs. Risa Bordman, Milena Forte, Mahan Kulasegaram, Melissa Nutik, Joyce Nyhof-Young, Betty Onyura, Sarah Whyte and Nikki Woods.

Every few months our OES program also offers Celebration of Education Scholarship (CES) events for DFCM faculty who are engaging in or interested in learning about education scholarship. These events feature presentations by visiting leading national and international education scholars and provide opportunities for faculty newly engaged in education scholarship to join with more senior faculty members to present and discuss their work.  Previous events featured renowned scholars such as Rachel Ellaway, Wayne Weston, Brian Hodges and Fred Hafferty, and included writing workshops, rounds, lectures, journal clubs and other unique ways of sharing information and sparking discussion. I encourage you to save the date for their next event on November 28-29, 2019, which will focus on Big Data. Even if you are just curious about education scholarship, I guarantee you will learn something to spike your interest.

When I became Chair of this department, I said I wanted us to build on our already wonderful education programs and offer the most innovative and exciting medical education in the world. But we can’t do this without being scholarly and discovering what’s working well and where we can do better. The Office of Education Scholarship team and Dr. Risa Freeman are leading the way to achieving this vision. If you haven’t been involved in education scholarship, now is the time: contact your education scholarship lead today (Undergraduate Education – Melissa Nutik, Postgraduate Education – Milena Forte, Faculty Development – Risa Bordman).


Michael Kidd
Professor and Chair
Department of Family and Community Medicine
Telephone: 416-978-6473