Multimedia course brings patient engagement to life for students

Happy young university students studying with books in library. Group of multiracial people in college library.

Tasked with delivering a patient-engagement workshop for graduate students in the Friday afternoon slot of a four-day bootcamp, organizers got creative with video, multimedia, storytelling and more.

“We knew we had to be pretty darn engaging,” says Dr. Kerry Kuluski, one of the architects of the workshop and an associate professor, Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

Designed to introduce the fundamentals of patient-engagement in research to 70 new MSc and PhD research students, the workshop was created to fill a gap in the curriculum and make students aware of the benefits and challenges of including people with lived experience in their research. It was organized by a committee of patients, caregivers, faculty and OSSU Assistant Director, John Riley.

Engaging Patients, Caregivers, and Community: Co-Designing What the Future Holds for IHPME, featured a live panel discussion to capture patient engagement from clinical, research, patient and decision-maker perspectives; an interactive survey; video clips; and interactive dialogue on the why, what and how of engagement.  In their feedback, attendees were overwhelmingly positive about the approach and value of the session.

Based on this success, a full-term course will be proposed at IHPME, with patients and community members helping to design and deliver the program. The aim would be to provide practical experience of patient partnership in research, with students visiting health care institutions, being observers on patient and family advisory councils and participating in quality improvement projects to better understand patient engagement from patient and caregiver perspectives.

“The workshop, we realized, was really fun,” says Dr. Kuluski. “The students got a lot out of it. We hope that when they are thinking more deeply about their theses, they will come back to us so we can support them in connecting with patients and families, developing research questions, building a committee, and helping them answer– how do you do this authentically? We want to be a resource for this work.”

“We are training the next generation of health care researchers and providers,” says Dr. Kuluski. “If we want to improve care, we can’t do it without patients and families. Universities, colleges, any training forums need to train and support students and researchers who are interested in partnering with patients and families. It doesn’t have to be scary.”