McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

FHS Education

Message from Alan Neville, Associate Dean, Education

Alan Neville

At McMaster University we value excellence, and we are proud of our legacy of innovation and collaboration.

Forty years ago the medical school pioneers created a radically different curriculum based on small group, self-directed, problem-based learning. This approach is now used in all of our health sciences programs, and at more than 120 schools worldwide.

But we don’t rest on our laurels. We have continued to advance the training of tomorrow’s health care professionals. Enrolment in our health sciences education programs has more than doubled since 2000, to more than 4,000 students.

Better ways to select and train students

The willingness to look for better ways to train health care professionals sparked the Program for Education Research and Development (PERD), renowned internationally for grounding educational practice in evidence.

Its studies have led to innovations such as the use of a reliable multi-mini interview (MMI) system rather than the traditional panel interview for student recruitment. The MMI, pioneered in the MD program, has been adopted for use in the occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and midwifery programs, and has influenced admissions processes in medical schools across the country.

Another innovation is a concept-based curriculum in the MD program, using state-of-the-art technologies. The electronic access eases distributed learning across three medical school campus sites in Hamilton, Niagara, and Waterloo, as well as at many clinical education placement sites across the province.

Innovation extends to simulation. For many years actors have simulated patients allowing students to practice in a safe environment. Now students can also interact with a programmable mannequin. A surgical skills laboratory is under construction, to allow students to practice another set of clinical skills. Our goal is to use the Centre for Simulation-Based Education and Research as a laboratory for interprofessional training.

Continuing to innovate, McMaster University has begun the first Physician Assistant Program in Canada. This program builds on our strengths in program delivery to train this new breed of practitioner, who will work alongside other health care professionals in hospitals, clinics and private practices.

Collaboration and teamwork

Collaboration and teamwork have been hallmarks of health sciences education at McMaster University since the creation of the Faculty of Health Sciences in 1984.

This culture has led McMaster to be at the forefront of interprofessional education in Canada. This commitment to exploring a range of interprofessional learning opportunities has been solidified in the recently established the Program for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (PIPER). Our Interprofessional Student Council is recognized as a national leader, involving students from each of the health professional programs and the Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours) and graduate programs.

Collaboration is shown in the new Controversies in Health course, sponsored by the BHSc (H) program and based on its expertise in inquiry learning. It brings together students from across McMaster’s six Faculties to explore and debate current health topics in an interdisciplinary forum.

New graduate programs in e-health, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and health policy are cross-Faculty offerings designed to build on existing and emerging research collaborations, and to train students to approach complex issues through an interdisciplinary lens.

Faculty development

A focus on collaboration, professionalism, and cultural sensitivity is behind the recent launch of the new model for professional development in the Program for Faculty Development. The new "pathways" program provides opportunities for career educators to become educational scholars. Lifelong interprofessional learning is the philosophy behind the Continuing Health Sciences Education Program.


We collaborate with partner universities and colleges across Canada.

  • The School of Rehabilitation Science has joined with the University of British Columbia to offer the Quality of Life Program, which provides rehabilitation professionals the opportunity to expand their research training by participating in an integrated, interdisciplinary, web-based graduate program.
  • The School of Nursing has partnered with Mohawk and Conestoga Colleges in a consortium to offer five different streams to complete the undergraduate nursing program.
  • The Midwifery Education Program is the lead institution in a consortium with Ryerson and Laurentian Universities to offer midwifery training across Ontario. The Midwifery Education Program curriculum has influenced the development of midwifery programs in British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba.

The health sciences leaders of tomorrow are being educated at McMaster today, in programs that exemplify excellence, innovation, and collaboration.

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