McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Teachers in a New Time:  Lecture

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: March 22, 2008
Elizabeth M. Davis
Elizabeth M. Davis, physician and chairperson of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation

Long gone is the doctor who made house calls and felt like a member of the family.

In 21st century Canada, doctors’ roles are changing.  They are in an environment of groundbreaking medical discoveries, the threat of pandemics, patients armed with information from the Internet, and cultural shifts with the arrival of immigrants from different countries.

The question is: How can medical schools and Faculty of Health Sciences reconfigure the training of doctors and other health professionals to meet these fundamental changes in healthcare.

"Teachers in a New Time, Teachers for a New Time" will explore these and other issues on Wednesday, April 30 during the fourth annual Henry and Sylvia Wong Forum in Medicine. The forum will be held in HSC 1A1 from 4.30 – 5.30 p.m. with a reception to follow.

Discussion of this mosaic of new realities will be led by guest speaker Elizabeth M. Davis, a noted physician who is chairperson of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, past president of the Medical Council of Canada and a member of the board of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

To adequately prepare health care students for the new era, Davis said faculties of health sciences will have to address broader issues such as how people learn, how generational differences impact on learning and the significance of social determinants of health. At the same time they must look after more specific issues, such as professionals’ role in this new age, citizens’ role in influencing the shape of health care and the new role of interdisciplinary learning and care.

Davis said the emerging concept of health care teams and collaborative practice, "are and must be an integral part of health care delivery" and understanding, building and sustaining such teams is "an emerging learning".

As patients become more vocal and knowledgeable, she said all medical organizations, including faculties of medicine, associations, colleges, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, "must work together to envision a new face of the profession and then provide leadership to realize that vision."

The move to interprofessional education between doctors, nurses and other health care professionals is a key component in realizing this new vision, Davis said.

"We would never bring a hockey team to the Olympics having trained each player individually and then expect them to play as a highly functioning team the minute they come on the ice," she said.

"Health care teams cannot function as highly performing teams unless we give them every advantage in their initial education and their on-going education. Yet, we must do this without denying the distinctive knowledge, expertise, skills and dignity of each profession and their unique gifts to health care and health. No one yet knows how best to do this. The one comfort lies in the multiple efforts being made in this direction."

Davis is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is a doctoral student in Scripture at the Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto, and a part-time faculty member at St. Augustine’s Seminary (Toronto) where she teaches the introduction to the Old Testament.

She serves on the board of the Regis College, Toronto School of Theology and the Mercy International Research Commission in Dublin, Ireland.

The Henry and Sylvia Wong Forum in Medicine for the advancement of research and public education was established by the Wongs, who are McMaster graduates.

The Wong Forum in Medicine is part of the Program for Faculty Development which has showcased academic programs, innovations, networking and updates on new strategies for 20 years. However, this is the first year the program has held an annual day in faculty development.
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