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Enhancing the online portal for candidates

February 21, 2018
Input from the Practice-Ready Assessment (PRA) programs and from users have helped improve online orientation modules on communication and cultural competence.

Just over two years after its launch, improvements were made to an online program for physicians to learn about communication and cultural competencies required for practising medicine in Canada. The orientation portal on physiciansapply.ca is aimed primarily at international medical graduates (IMGs), but provides useful insight for all medical students and graduates.

Users spoke; MCC responded

The improvements respond to input from several sources, explained Lisa McGrath, Team Leader, Communications at the Medical Council of Canada (MCC). The orientation portal was developed as part of the National Assessment Collaboration’s PRA initiative. Those involved with this initiative provide continued feedback on how the orientation portal is meeting the needs of candidates. As well, users of the portal can have their say by completing a survey on the website to give their perspective on what could be improved or added to the program.

We ask, ‘How is this working for you?’ ”

Lisa McGrath
Team Leader, Communications, MCC


Feedback from a focus group of 19 IMGs held in Winnipeg just after the portal was launched continues to be incorporated into the portal.

What has changed?

The orientation portal landing page has been redesigned and optimized to enhance the user experience.

Within each module, a menu appears on the left-hand side of the page to help users navigate to sections for that module and links to the online survey and an observation guide—a roadmap that helps users navigate the landscape of the physician-patient conversation. This helps users reach the guide any time they need it.

“These changes make it easier for users to access the required information,” said Ms. McGrath.

A new module has been added on “professional challenges, which features two scenarios. The scenarios in this module illustrate interactions between physicians and the organizational system, both in a hospital and in a private office. Some of the issues covered are confidentiality in a large institution, hierarchies among physicians, management issues and limitations of competence.

More enhancements coming

Other improvements are planned. A glossary of terms used in the orientation program, and a content index to help users navigate precisely to specific topics in the modules will be launched by early 2018.

The online videos of patient encounters were originally developed in the early 2000s. As a result, they are not in today’s high-definition (HD) video. As well, due to budget constraints, not all videos were available in French.

The plan is to have all videos available in HD and in both English and French by the end of March 2018, said Ms. McGrath. Filming has begun, with one module completed to date.

More modules will be added in future, in response to the needs of IMGs, said Ms. McGrath. She encouraged users to fill out the survey, which guides the selection of topics for new modules. “The feedback is so helpful in knowing what candidates would like to see explored in the program.”