ABSTRACT: The expert patient as teacher: an interprofessional Health Mentors programme
To meet future health care needs, medical education must increase the emphasis on chronic illness care, interprofessional teamwork, and working in partnership with patients and families. One way to address these needs is to involve patients as teachers in longitudinal interprofessional educational programmes grounded in principles of patient-professional partnerships and shared decision-making.
The University of British Columbia has a history of initiatives designed to bring patient and community voices into health professional education. Increasing opportunities for interprofessional education has become important because of accreditation requirements.
We describe preliminary findings from a 3-year pilot of an interprofessional Health Mentors programme, an elective patient-as-teacher initiative in which groups of four students from different disciplines learn together, with and from a mentor with a chronic condition (an ‘expert by experience’) over three semesters. The goals, achieved through six themed meetings and a symposium, are to learn about living with a chronic condition from the patient’s perspective and to develop interprofessional competencies. Groups are given suggested topics for each meeting, but function as self-managed learning communities, and are encouraged to explore their own questions. Faculty members support direct learning between students and mentors through setting broad objectives and responding to the student reflections written after each group meeting. Students and mentors rate the programme highly, and a wide range of important learning outcomes have been documented. Medical education must increase the emphasis on chronic illness care, working in partnership with patients
Key characteristics, generalisable to other educational programmes, include the role of faculty staff in supporting learning between students and patients, a minimalist structure to promote ownership and creativity, and flexible delivery.