A special panel discussion entitled Refugee Health: Strengthening Competencies for Health Professionals kicks off the fall Thursday Evening Learning Series (TELS) and Wednesday e-Learning Series (WELS) organized by the McGill Faculty of Medicine’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Office. The session takes place September 13 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Register by September 10th.

Since 2015, Canada has seen an influx of refugees and refugee claimants. Canada resettled over 52,000 Syrians displaced by war and welcomed an estimated 20,000 refugee claimants who crossed into Canada from the United States. Many of these families faced considerable hardship and challenges before coming to Canada. Beyond simply needing a checkup, many arrive in ambulatory care clinics and emergency rooms with a variety of health and social needs including infectious diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, cultural barriers, language and literacy challenges and joblessness. Some might need legal help, support getting children registered for school, or a referral to a food bank.
Many refugees have unique health care needs

The goal of this CPD session is to improve the competency of health professionals so they can confidently treat the sometimes-unique health care needs of refugees and refer those struggling to adjust to life in Canada to appropriate community services.

“The evening is meant to help doctors and health providers understand how the system works, what is paid, what is not. It will give you a better understanding of the health care needs of patients depending on their country of origin and, importantly, how to work with community partners so you can address the social issues that ultimately will impact their health and wellbeing,” says Dr. Anne Andermann, Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Associate Member in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health.

The course will address health screening of newcomers such as checking for infectious diseases common to their country of origin, vaccination and mental health issues such as trauma. Attendees will also learn about potential cultural barriers, for example, refugees might be unaccustomed to speaking with an authority figure, or a woman might defer decisions on childcare to her husband.

The session will also look at practical issues such as how to get reimbursed for services from the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), what to do and how to refer patients without a RAMQ card or whose refugee claims have been denied, but they are still in Canada.

Addressing social issues that ultimately will impact health

Dr. Andermann points out that health care professionals and managers don’t need to get to know all of the more than 3,000 Non-Governmental Organizations in Montreal who are providing free health care and a myriad of other services. It is enough to get to know a few who will help refer patients to the appropriate services.

Social Medicine: advocating for patients and changes to health care system

Dr. Andermann believes the health worker’s role is to advocate for their patients and/or to advocate for changes to the health care system as a whole. She points to the recent efforts of Montreal Children’s Hospital pediatric ER physician Samir Shaheen-Hussain who with the support of the Quebec pro-Medicare group Médecins québécois pour le régime public (MQRP), pressured the Ministry of Health and Social Services to end the practice of airlifting Inuit children from Quebec’s far North to Montreal on their own. The government recently amended the practice and now a parent or guardian can accompany their child during medical evacuations by plane.

“I am very excited by social medicine and I try to get students excited too. There is so much to do to make the system supportive and the world a better place. Students and residents have a lot of energy and capacity to make change happen. Those working in the health care system also need to role model being an advocate in their clinic, ER, or hospital to show how it is done. On an individual level, health care professionals can help a patient with low literacy fill out a form, or they can pick up the phone to get patients an appointment so they don’t run around in circles and get answering machines,” she says.

Learning objectives of the Refugee Health Panel:

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the distinction between immigrants, asylum-seekers and convention refugees
  • Explain the refugee claims process in Canada, including refugee hearings and appeals
  • List vaccination and screening recommendations for infectious and non-communicable diseases
  • Determine when referral of patients for mental health & trauma support is warranted
  • Communicate with patients to assess their current living situation and social support needs
  • Identify various community-based resources for refugees in Montreal
  • Engage in active listening, create safe spaces for disclosure and provide trauma-informed care
  • Recognize when and how to advocate for patient needs at an individual and population level
  • Demonstrate social accountability at the micro, meso and macro levels

INTENDED AUDIENCE: This session is tailored to family doctors, medical specialists, nurses, social workers and other allied health professionals, as well as students in the health professions at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

WHEN: Thursday, September 13, 2018 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

WHERE: Strathcona Building, 3640 University Street in the Leblond Amphitheatre (M1). You can tune in via webinar as well.


  • Dr. Anne Andermann, Director Community Oriented Primary Care at McGill
  • Ms. Denise Otis, Protection Officer, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Dr. Gilles de Margerie, Clinique des demandeurs d’asile et réfugiés (CDAR)
  • Dr. Richard Oudin, R2 in Family Medicine, CLSC Parc Extension
  • Ms. Marianne Leaune-Welt, Social worker, Projet Migrants, Médecins du Monde Canada
  • Ms. Veronique Harvey, Psychothérapeute, Réseau d’intervention auprès des personnes ayant subi la violence organisée (RIVO)
  • Mr. John Docherty, Founder and Coordinator, RIVO
  • Lauren Kay, medical student

COST:  Registration is free for Faculty of Medicine undergraduate and graduate students as well as students from the Schools of Nursing, Social Work, Physical and Occupational Therapy and Communication Sciences and Disorders. For students: When registering for this free session, select the September 13 date only.  You must show your student ID to be admitted.  Students should register here.

The cost of registration varies for physicians and other health professionals.

Register now for this single session or for the entire TELS or WELS series.  Check out the over 70 courses that span 12 different disciplines.   REGISTER ONLINE BEFORE SEPTEMBER 10, 2018 at 5:00 p.m.


Tel: (514) 398-4797

Email: cpdadmincoor.med@mcgill.ca

Website: http://cpd.mcgill.ca


August 22, 2018