The dermatologist and McGill graduate started facilitating in courses within the interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum while completing his residency, and is one of 500 volunteer facilitators
When he isn’t helping patients at his dermatology clinic, George Christodoulou, MDCM, Faculty Lecturer at the Department of Medicine, volunteers his time by facilitating interprofessional education courses at the Office of Interprofessional Education (OIPE), for the next generation of healthcare professionals.
Dr. Christodoulou was a learner himself when he started out as a facilitator within the OIPE’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) curriculum. He signed up during his dermatology residency in 2017 and has been involved ever since.
“It’s a nice activity that makes you feel like you’re giving back and adds a bit of variety into what you’re doing,” he says.
Led by the OIPE, the four-course IPE curriculum brings learners in medicine, nursing, genetic counselling, dentistry, dietetics, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology together in an active learning experience. Their activities include online group work and discussions enabling shared decision-making, individual reading and assignments, and a simulated patient- or family-centred care scenario.
The OIPE relies on more than 500 academic and clinical faculty members, as well as health professionals at McGill’s affiliated healthcare institutions, to facilitate the courses.
A flexible, accredited way of giving back
Dr. Christodoulou appreciates the support he receives from the OIPE as a facilitator – from the flexibility that accommodates his clinical schedule to the refresher Faculty Development training offered to all facilitators each year.
Dianne Bateman, PhD, the OIPE’s Director of Faculty Development for Interprofessional Education, says this training “reacquaints [facilitators] with the literature on conflict resolution and, in particular, on the conflict resolution strategies often needed on interprofessional care teams”.
This training, alongside facilitating courses, also helps them advance their own professional development while contributing to the education of future healthcare professionals, she adds.
Another key attraction is that volunteers can now earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits for facilitating IPEA 503: Managing Interprofessional Conflict. In addition, taking the OIPE’s Faculty Development training each year allows facilitators to earn professional development credits.
“That’s definitely something that’s helpful for anyone involved,” says Dr. Christodoulou. “The training also makes your life a lot easier in preparation the course itself and ensures you have it fresh in your mind. It answers a lot of questions that you may have and gives them context as well.”
Each year, seasoned facilitators return to teach the interprofessional curriculum, while others get involved for the first time. New facilitators are usually paired with someone who has taught courses in the curriculum previously.
Cynthia Perlman, M.Ed., OT(C), erg., Director of the OIPE and Assistant Professor at the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, says this way of pairing facilitators “models interprofessional collaboration for our students”.
“Paired facilitators share personal experiences and lessons learned from their own clinical practices during the debriefing process, thereby highlighting the implementation of IPE competencies.”
An introduction to problem-solving in the clinical environment
Dr. Christodoulou facilitates IPEA 502: Patient-Centred Care in Action (a simulation activity) and IPEA 503: Managing Interprofessional Conflict (a blended learning activity).
In IPEA 502, he and other facilitators guide learners as they participate in a simulation of a situational conflict in the context of a clinical case that involves members of multiple health professions.
“You’re meeting different family members, you’re trying to provide conflict resolution and that helps empathize with everyone’s situation,” Dr. Christodoulou explains. “You realize that a clinical case is not just related to the patient, although they are the primary focus. It’s nice to be exposed to the importance of that and finding ways to manage these situations collaboratively.”
In IPEA 503, learners gain the skills to resolve conflict or disagreement collaboratively and intentionally in interprofessional teams through individual assignments, online activities and small group discussions.
“There is no single medical specialty or setting that doesn’t have some form of conflict,” Dr. Christodoulou says. “It helps reframe and reteach you the basics of conflict, as opposed to living them in the moment and being overcome by your ‘hot brain’. You get to think about the ‘cold-brained’ aspects of conflict in a bit more of a literal sense.”
As a dermatologist who works in an outpatient clinic, Dr. Christodoulou appreciates the exposure facilitating gives him to best practices of interprofessional care.
“As a facilitator, you also have to learn a little more about it yourself, so that you can effectively teach it while having the necessary context,” he says.
Helping the next generation make leaps
Dr. Christodoulou will be facilitating again in Winter 2024, when IPEA 502 and IPEA 503 will next be offered to learners in Montreal and at Campus Outaouais.
“It adds variety to your clinical practice, brings you back to the basics, and drills down the basic concepts of the situations that you are potentially exposed to on a day-to-day basis,” he says.
“It makes you feel good that you’re helping the next generation, who have yet to reach this point in their careers, allowing you to teach them and give them some context. Hopefully, that gives them a push or leap you might not have received during your training.”
Interested in joining the OIPE’s growing group of facilitators? Contact the Office of Interprofessional Education to learn more about upcoming opportunities.