First Patient Volunteers

What are First Patient Volunteers?

The First Patient Program pairs first-year medical students with members of the community diagnosed with a chronic medical condition. People with chronic conditions have unique healthcare needs, and their experiences and insights are invaluable for training effective, conscientious doctors.

By working with these individuals, called First Patient Volunteers, our students will learn more about the importance of the continuity of care.

The First Patient Program is currently operating on a hybrid model, with some virtual and some in-person sessions. We have strict public health protocols in place to protect our volunteers, staff, faculty, and students. Please email our Patient Program Coordinator to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can become a First Patient Volunteer?

To participate, you must be over the age of 19, live at home (i.e. not in a care facility), and have been diagnosed with a stable but chronic condition, such as:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Crohn’s or Colitis
  • Renal failure

Candidates will complete a screening process to ensure they’re eligible.

What can a First Patient Volunteer expect?

You will be assigned to work with two IMP students. The students will review your medical history to learn more about your condition(s), and they will accompany you to medical appointments to better understand your experiences with the healthcare system.

Students will learn how you cope with your condition on a day-to-day basis, and how it affects your social, mental, and emotional well-being.

Your primary physician will also support the students and review their final assignments.

How often would I be required to meet with medical students?

The program will run from January to December, with some time off during the summer.

You will meet with your assigned students a minimum of five times over this eleven-month period. These meetings include an initial at-home visit, two appointments with your primary physician, and at least two other medically relevant appointments.

Do I have to contact my physician if I decide to participate?

No. The course director will contact your physician to explain the program, plus what’s required of your doctor and your assigned students.

What if I’m not feeling comfortable?

Please let us know immediately. Your well-being and privacy is a top priority. IMP faculty and students are bound by the Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics, so all participant information is kept in the strictest of confidence.

One challenge I face is getting to and from my appointments. Will the students accompany me to see what it’s like, or will I meet them there?

This will be discussed on an individual basis. Students are not permitted to drive you.

Will I be paid for participating?

First Patient Volunteers will be paid an honorarium of $25 per session or appointment.

First Patient Story

Curious to know what it’s like to be a First Patient? Read our interview with Taylor to learn more about his experiences in the role.