By Matthew Brett

Dr. Donald Boudreau  has joined a consultative team affiliated with an educational innovation about to be implemented in Norway. The project, called ‘PROFMED’, is focused on improving medical students’ preparation for and experience of clinical placements.

Dr. Boudreau is currently serving as Interim Director of McGill University’s Institute of Health Sciences Education.

The PROFMED project lead is Dr. Edvin Schei, a Professor in the Department of Global Public Health & Primary Care and a member of the Center for Medical Education in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Bergen. Dr. Schei was a visiting professor to McGill’s Centre for Medical Education in 2016-17.

Experience-based learning requires preparation of students and teachers

This curricular innovation was conceived as a response to observations that students and teachers are not optimally prepared for the pedagogic, affective and organizational issues arising in the context of experience-based learning.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the fleeting nature of the student-teacher relationships established in increasingly busy, complex and chaotic clinical units do not permit the cognitive scaffolding, close supervision, emotional support, ego protection, and guided reflection necessary for medical students’ meaningful participation in patient care.

Formal and longitudinal mentoring programs have been demonstrated to address some of these issues but they are occasionally organized as a corrective measure or as a parallel and compensatory experience to clinical placements.

PROFMED is designed to apply some of the features of successful mentoring, notably the emphasis on relational and personal dimensions, to clinical placements in order to optimize learning and to promote the acquisition of a professional identity.

The project’s two main goals are: (i) to formally, explicitly and systematically orient students for participation in a hospital-based workplace and (ii) to enhance clinical tutors’ capabilities at inviting students to contribute to authentic patient care while improving tutors’ skills in supportive feedback-giving.

This project is aimed primarily at curriculum improvement rather than at empirical research. Nonetheless, it is hoped that the interventions will provide opportunities for scholarly exploration of experienced-based learning, perhaps using implementation research methodologies (which overlap conceptually with program evaluation) or through a purposeful application of models of clinically-based and work-place learning.

PROFMED takes shape

PROFMED has a total three-year budget of 8.4 million Norwegian Kroner (approximately $1.2 million). In mid-October, it was announced that a submission to the ‘Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education’ was successful; PROFMED has been awarded 5 million NOK (approximately $720,000).

Dr. Schei’s collaborators in Norway include Drs. Steinar Hunskår, Monika Kvernenes, Bjørn Vikse, Hilde Grimstad, Arne Tjølsen, Harald Wiker, and Eivind Valestrand. On the consultative team of international experts are Tim Dornan (Queen’s University, Belfast), Charlotte Ringsted (Aarhus University, Aarhus), Terese Stenfors (Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm), Beth Whelan (Memorial University, St. John’s), and Donald Boudreau (McGill University, Montreal).



January 12, 2021