Innovative approach to learning puts patients first


Kate Stead didn't hesitate when choosing a hospital to complete her third-year as a University of Toronto medical student. Having previously completed a six-week program shadowing a surgeon at North York General Hospital (NYGH), she knew the hospital would be a good fit.

“I had such an overwhelmingly positive experience here last time,” she remembers. “Everyone was focused on teaching and learning and there was a real sense of community.”

Her biggest decision was choosing her type of clerkship. In order to become practising physicians, medical students must complete a clerkship, or rotation, in a hospital setting. Until now, the hospital had only offered the traditional block clerkships where medical students practised one discipline at a time. This fall, however, North York General joined the University of Toronto's pilot Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LInC) program that allows students to study multiple disciplines simultaneously.

Kate Stead and Dr. Clare Hutchinson

Kate took a chance and became one of the hospital's four students participating in the pilot. The deciding factor? The new LInC program's strong patient-centred focus. “I like that I move alongside a patient as they go from one discipline to another,” she says. “So, for example, I may meet a patient with their family physician, and then be able to be a part of their specialist visits, even be by their side if they need surgery or another procedure."

The LInC program is not just about building relationships with patients, says Dr. Clare Hutchinson, lead administrator of NYGH's program. As LInC students learn different disciplines concurrently, they stay with the same preceptors (or teachers) throughout the year. “Students can gather many different perspectives on one patient's health care journey,” says Dr. Hutchinson. “This benefits both the student and the patient.”

Photo: University of Toronto medical student Kate Stead, left, is participating in the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LInC) program offered at North York General Hospital. Dr. Clare Hutchinson, right, is the lead administrator for the program that allows students to study multiple disciplines simultaneously.

While it's still early days, Kate is confident the LInC program and its holistic view is a great fit for her future aspirations. “I feel a calling to work in a community hospital as I grew up in a small town,” she says. “I can see myself using this patient-centred approach to better serve the needs of my community.”

This article first appeared in the October 2015 issue of The Pulse.

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