What does Social Accountability look like in Ottawa?

Homeless is drinking tea

Although there is evidence of social accountability throughout the Undergraduate and Postgraduate medical programs at the University of Ottawa, until the hiring of a Social Accountability Director in 2015, there was no way to look at our efforts in a coordinated and planned approach. Ultimately, we hope to follow the World Health Organization Social Accountability (SA) definition and direct the Faculties research, service and education toward the priority needs of our community. To do this effectively, we will need to have true Community engagement and representation on our curriculum committees. That is a lofty goal and we are working towards it one step at a time.

We have developed a SA Leadership Committee with faculty representation that shape our SA mandate, including Admissions, Gender and Equity, Indigenous Education and Francophone Affairs  to name a few. We have a SA Student Advisory Committee that gives students an opportunity to both be heard and help shape our SA development. Working with the leadership team, we have identified five priority groups that allow us to focus our energies where it counts. Each has a faculty lead, for now, until we move forward into the community.

We are trying to identify the many who work in silos doing shifts in homeless shelters, indigenous clinics or homes for unwed mothers, trying to unite into a community of practice. Our current efforts are geared at developing a comprehensive  database of all our learners allowing us to clarify who is getting into our program (socio-economic status, rural nature, indigenous, etc.) and what happens to our graduates (residency and location of practice). This will help us better understand and define the SA inherent in our Admissions policies, rural program, inner city and Indigenous programs. We have created a community based SDoH interdisciplinary clinic (NORTH) entirely developed and run by students. We are starting at the “Micro” level, working with our clerkship rotation directors to identify SA champions within their departments and have SA expectations within each clerkship rotation.

Gradually we will move into community engagement and develop the community research to clarify our community partner needs. With that comes the development of tools to measure our success and ongoing areas that need development. But it all starts with small steps.

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