Long-Term Impact in Global Healthcare Through the Enhanced Skills Program

Apr 9, 2018


All too often, medical students and residents are unaware that their practice can lead them to distant places. Yes, family doctors travel too!

In the last nine years, postgraduate students in their PGY2 year have had the opportunity to apply to the PGY3 Enhanced Skills Program in Global Health and Vulnerable Populations. The Global Health and Vulnerable Populations program is one of the many fields of focused practice in the Enhanced Skill program at the Department of Family and Community Medicine that allows residents to further their skills in areas of interest. 

“I had an absolutely incredible experience. There's so much flexibility in the first six months,” says Dr. Eileen Nicolle, the program’s first graduate and now co-director with Dr. Praseedha Janakiram. “I had the opportunity to work on skills I thought were valuable in a Toronto setting, like working with vulnerable populations.”

PGY3 residents spend their first six months in clinical rotations, working with vulnerable populations in HIV primary care, TB primary care, refugee health and inner city shelters for example, in Toronto. They engage in academic work with the global health program while also participating in global health-focused conferences.

In the last six months of the program, residents apply their learnings in a community outside of Toronto. The program’s current overseas practicum partnership is with Brazil where the experience is heavily focused on teaching and mentorship. Through education and advocacy for family medicine, residents can appreciate the impact of strengthening primary care systems.  Upon returning from Brazil, trainees also have the opportunity to consolidate their year with a one-month clinical rotation in a rural setting in Ontario.

“Equally important to the success of this program are the partnerships built with our host country colleagues,” says Dr. Janakiram. “Over time, we have built a very strong partnership in Brazil. We continue to work with our colleagues to support family medicine awareness and education to advance primary care collaboration between our programs.”

Enhanced skill residents acquire valuable skills enabling them to work in limited-resource settings in Canada and they develop a broader understanding of the Canadian healthcare system and their roles as advocates and leaders in this system.

The program recognizes that the landscape of family medicine and primary care is changing along with the needs of the population. As a result, it is continuously evolving using feedback from residents to improve the program. Dr. Nicolle has been pleased with the outcome. She says that the program receives high-quality PGY3 trainees who show a lot of leadership in vulnerable populations.

“The program is a real reflection of all the trainees collectively because each of their experiences and their interests has guided how the program continues to grow as a leader in vulnerable populations care,” says Dr. Janakiram. “Our graduates are committed to this work and are uniquely positioned to effect change in their practice communities”.



Some of our doctors have gone to interesting places. 

Family Doctors Travel Too


Related Items