The DFM's Dr. Parisa Rezaiefar, a clinician-teacher at the Bruyère Academic Family Health Team, is the 2019 recipient of the Medical Council of Canada's W. Dale Dauphinee Fellowship, which supports medical educators to enhance their knowledge and skills in physician assessment. Find out about her path and plans for the fellowship, and her advice to our faculty and residents.
What will this fellowship help you achieve? What projects will it support?
I must thank the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) for granting me this fellowship and Dr. Dale Dauphinee himself. He has impacted medical education in our country with his leadership by introducing modern assessment concepts. The W. Dale Dauphinee fellowship is designed to support medical educators to improve their skills in physician assessment. This is very important to me as I believe that Canadians deserve to have access to competent physicians, and as educators, we are trusted by the public to ensure that they do.
Our department became a competency-based program under the leadership of Dr. Alison Eyre, Dr. Gary Viner and Dr. Eric Wooltorton in 2014. This advancement has and will continue to help promote the competency of our graduates. We must not, however, forget practicing Family Physicians, particularly faculty members. They deserve to be supported in learning new skills, ensuring their ongoing competence, and provided with tools to transfer their competency to our learners. This has been the focus of Dr. Wooltorton as the director of Faculty Development and I am so glad to be contributing in my way to this mandate.
My area of interest is to explore “effective” ways of teaching Women’s Health procedural skills using technology and simulation. I have been accepted for a fellowship with the Department of Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Ottawa. My goal this year is to create a competency-based continuing professional development curriculum which consists of online teaching components and simulation-based workshops to teach Family Physicians office-based women’s health procedural skills. The W. Dale Dauphinee fellowship will be instrumental in helping me design physician competence assessment tools, and evaluate physicians’ practice change and impact on the quality of care.
How will your work as a W. Dale Dauphinee Fellow benefit medical education at the University of Ottawa, and beyond?
First, I hope that by supporting more family physicians to perform and teach women’s health procedures we improve patients access to care. That is always my guiding light and is well defined by the concept of Triple C (Competent care, Community-centred, and Continuity of Care and Education).
Secondly, teaching procedural skills to an average of 70 family medicine residents per year within family medicine programs that are geographically spread and have large faculty members (close to 640 at the University of Ottawa, for example) is resource-intensive and not economically sustainable.
Lastly, family physicians are best suited to lead the education of our postgraduate learners and mentor medical students to pursue family medicine as a career.
I hope that my curriculum will address some of our challenges by supporting family medicine teachers with innovative teaching methods and enhance the quality of education for our department and future doctors.
What (or who) encouraged you to apply for this fellowship?
I have been very fortunate to have formal and informal mentors who have supported me in my academic endeavours. I must thank Dr. Lisa Calder, my “formal” mentor, who informed me of this particular fellowship. This fellowship is not very well-known among family physicians. In fact, in the past 11 years, only two family physicians have been granted this award nationally. I am grateful that Dr. Simone Dahrouge, Dr. Sharon Johnston, and Dr. Doug Archibald, my “informal’ mentors, encouraged me to believe in myself and apply to such prestigious fellowships for my sabbatical year.
What past experiences as a physician, educator and/or researcher inspired you to pursue this opportunity?
Honestly, my experience in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories made me a “better” doctor. One northern patient, a mother of five, who would not contemplate leaving her community to go to Iqaluit to see a gynaecologist, encouraged me to learn to perform some procedures I had never learned in my residency. I had amazing nurses who stood by me saying: “Well, you are it - There is a storm, and no flight will be arriving to transfer this patient. You have to do “this” or else they’ll die!” As a clinician teacher, I hope to support my residents so that they will not share some of my more humbling experiences. More importantly, I learned that patients’ care should not be limited because of their geographical location. So, my thinking is: “better family doctors leads to better individual patient experience and finally less societal cost”.
How has the University of Ottawa and/or Department of Family Medicine supported you as a researcher?
My “home clinic”, Bruyère Academic Family Health Team, is a tremendous community of supportive colleagues who inspire me on daily basis to be a better doctor, a better teacher, and a better scholar. I have coffee with people like Dr. Elizabeth Muggah, a leader in quality improvement who randomly drops off articles on my desk with a sticky note saying “I thought of YOU when I read this”. I can text Dr. Claire Kendall and Dr. Sharon Johnston, internationally recognized researchers, at 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning counting on them to edit an application. I believe that by recruiting, supporting and recognizing individuals who dream big, and support each other in delivering our mission, the Department has and will continue to support me, and future generations.
What advice would you give to a resident or faculty member who has an idea for a study or innovation?
DO IT! No dream is too big. Just make sure you choose your partners wisely.
Is there anything else you would like to communicate to our faculty members and residents?
Be kind! Be kind to yourself because innovative ideas, especially in medicine and even more so in medical education, are not easy to promote. It takes lots of courage to push new ideas. Be kind to your colleagues, every one of them, because they are the ones who support you to provide better patient care, and be a better teacher - and they are just as tired and as frustrated as you are. Last but not least, be kind to your family. “Their world” is affected when you are absent physically or mentally because you are trying to make “the world” a better place.