Issue No.17 Community Voices in Health Professional Education at UBC

July 2015

Issue 17

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Voices Newsletter

Reaching over 1200 people in the community and university, this newsletter promotes patient and community involvement in health professional education at UBC.


MD students from 1st Health Mentors cohort graduate

CJ (mentor) & Becky at the MD class of 2015 graduation ceremony in May.

Four years ago, Cheryl Johnson (CJ) and Rebecca Schnurr-Howsam met through the UBC Health Mentors program when Becky was a first year medical student.

CJ, an expert patient with arthritis, was Becky's mentor in the first pilot year of a program designed to teach health care students about chronic disease management from patients living with chronic conditions. The 16-month program is an opportunity to get to know a patient and see the ups and downs of living with a chronic condition. 

"CJ is so special to me and I am grateful that we were introduced through the Health Mentors program." says Becky who invited CJ to attend her graduation from medical school before starting the UBC Internal Medicine Residency Program where she hopes to do a subspecialty in rheumatology.

"It was very special and emotional. Becky was in my first group students." says CJ who continues to volunteer with the program. 

Since it began in 2011, over 600 students and 70 mentors have taken part in program. A 5th cohort will begin in September.

Study shows how Health Mentors teach

How do patient teachers teach? In the Interprofessional Health Mentors Program, students learn directly from a patient with a chronic illness or a caregiver. For many students, it is a transformative learning experience that can profoundly change attitudes and even career choice. But what do Health Mentors do to help students learn?

Phoebe Cheng, a UBC medical student and current participant in the program, is working on a summer research project to study the strategies that mentors use to teach students. From interviews with mentors and analysis of student journals, Phoebe is finding out how patients can transform learning.

Preliminary results show that mentors are gifted storytellers. The open and honest sharing of personal experiences enables students to think more holistically about health care. Read more...

Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Health Professional Student Research Award and the UBC Faculty of Medicine Summer Student Research Program.

Allies in Health Fair paper now available

A paper about the Allies in Health Patient & Community Fair has been published in The Clinical Teacher.

The paper presents community evaluations and student learning outcomes over 5 years (2009-2013).

Towle A., Godolphin W., & Kline C. The community comes to campus: The patient and community Fair.The Clinical Teacher 2015; 12(4): 260-266.

If you are unable to access the paper, please contact

The next Allies in Health Fair is expected to take place in early in 2016. Updates will be posted at

UBC students experience traditional healing

Students who took part in a workshop on First Nations history for health professionals led by members of the Indian Residential School Survivors Society were treated to an extra lesson in traditional healing from Ross Muehlfarth.

On Sunday May 24th, seven students from nursing, midwifery, speech-language pathology, clinical and counselling psychology took part in an early morning cold water bath ceremony. Students learned through experience about the role of cold water cleansing in traditional healing. The session was highly rated by students as one of the best cultural learning experiences they have had.

Watch for more opportunities like this for health care students at

In Memoriam: Peter Hanson

Peter Hanson, a UBC Health Mentor (2012-13), passed away on July 1, 2015.

We are grateful for Pete's contributions to the UBC Health Mentors and Volunteer Patient programs.

If desired, donations may be made in his memory to his favourite charity the Neil Squire Society.

Conference draws research funding

Where's the patient's voice in health professional education 10 years on?

Vancouver, Nov.12-14, 2015

Members of the conference organizing committee have been awarded a research grant from the Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) to study factors that promote sustainability of patient involvement initiatives. Of more than 40 proposals, it was one of only four projects selected to receive funding.

"The conference is a brilliant way to centre this research, since it will bring together the major players in the field." said one reviewer.

Data will be collected from delegates using surveys and case studies. The study will provide an international snapshot of the current state of patient-as-educator initiatives and major changes that have occurred over the past 10 years.

To register for the conference visit:


Brought to you by:

Division of Health Care Communication
College of Health Disciplines
Woodward Instructional Resources Center
400 - 2194 Health Sciences Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
Tel: (604) 822-8002