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NewsVisits to provincial PRA programs

Visits to provincial PRA programs

February 21, 2018
Visits to provincial PRA programs inform stakeholders about NAC PRA and build relationships for NAC PRA’s next phase.

Medical Council of Canada (MCC) staff travelled to eight provinces from July to November 2017, to meet with PRA programs and interested stakeholders.

The visits had several purposes, explained Lisa McGrath, Team Leader, Communications at the MCC, who participated in several of the visits. They provided detailed information on NAC PRA to the PRA authorities as well as provincial governments, medical regulatory authorities, medical associations and others. Visits also gave the MCC staff a chance to see how provincial PRA programs were adapting and implementing the materials and tools developed during the project phase.

Group photo of MCC staff meeting with a PRA program in Saskatchewan
From left to right: Dr. Marguerite Roy, Cindy Streefkerk, Dr. Prem Gandham, Dr. Jon Witt, Sandra Roberts and Lucie Panko.

Cindy Streefkerk, Chief Strategic Development Officer at the MCC, also attended several of the visits. “They were important to the MCC and the internal NAC PRA team, since the discussions focused on the PRA programs’ respective environments and contexts,” she said. “We had time to delve into specific topics about the PRA programs in more detail, and it was an opportunity to put faces to names.”

The Saskatchewan meeting, for example, was held July 12, 2017, at the University of Saskatoon. In attendance were the university’s Associate Dean of Continuing Medical Education, Dr. Jim Barton, and Registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS), Dr. Karen Shaw. There were also representatives from the physician recruitment agency, including those from the regions who joined the meeting by teleconference. After the meeting, Dr. Jon Witt, Medical Director of the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA), brought the MCC staff to the Rosthern Hospital and Medical Clinic in a rural area north of Saskatoon, one of the sites used for clinical over-time assessment.

Quotation marks

It was a great opportunity to meet an assessor and get a tour of the teaching facilities.

Lisa McGrath
Team Leader, Communication, MCC


Dr. Jon Witt said “The meeting helped people understand that SIPPA is working within the context of a broader structure — pan-Canadian PRA.”

“This isn’t just us, SIPPA, doing things on our own, but in a broader collaboration, through the MCC. With the MCC comes a strong name for excellence,” said Dr. Witt. While SIPPA is well-supported in Saskatchewan, the meeting attendees “didn’t realize how connected we were and how involved the MCC is.”

Several thousand kilometres away, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Dr. Carl Sparrow welcomed members of the MCC team on October 2, 2017. As Director of the Clinical Skills Assessment and Training Program (CSAT), Dr. Sparrow said the visit “allowed government and the college to become familiar with the NAC PRA process.” In attendance were Dr. Elizabeth Bannister, a council member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador (CPSNL) responsible for quality assurance, and CPSNL Deputy Registrar Dr. Oscar Howell. As well, representatives attended from the provincial government’s Department of Health and Community Services and the Faculty of Medicine of Memorial University of Newfoundland (Dr. Vernon Curran, Associate Dean of Educational Development and Dr. Cathy Vardy, Vice-Dean).

He felt the visit also helped the MCC staff appreciate the unique challenges faced by CSAT. The MCC staff toured rural areas such as Petty Harbour and Cape Spear, “to see that the geography of Newfoundland is more than St. John’s,” said Dr. Sparrow. “It’s a different culture, a different environment and has unique problems to do with the delivery of health care.”

Town in St-John'sHe said the rural areas with aging populations means that assessment and training must focus on these specific needs for primary care. Integrating international medical graduates often means dealing with culture shock and helping physicians become oriented to the reality of life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Both MCC staff and PRA programs felt the visits were worthwhile, with benefits for both the provincial programs and the NAC PRA project. These visits have given the MCC the opportunity to foster strong relationships with the PRA programs and build collaboration as we enter the next phase of the initiative.

Group photo above:
From left to right: Dr. Marguerite Roy, Cindy Streefkerk, Dr. Prem Gandham, Dr. Jon Witt, Sandra Roberts and Lucie Panko.