The IMP’s Patient Program has gone virtual.
To maintain health and safety during COVID-19, all in-person volunteering has been cancelled until further notice. Instead, volunteers will meet and work with their students through Zoom.
“Your health and safety is of utmost importance, so you will not be asked to volunteer in-person until it is safe to do so,” says Karen Basi, Patient Program Coordinator. “We will only restart the in-person aspects of the program when the provincial health officer allows, and we will heed all best practices to ensure your health and safety when that time comes.”
The IMP Patient Program is a set of volunteer opportunities available to people of all ages, genders, and levels of health. Volunteers help medical students develop many important skills, such as history-taking, connecting with patients in a respectful and empathetic manner, and much more. All participants receive training, support, and an honorarium for their work, no matter which opportunity they choose.
Despite the change in platform, however, the program hasn’t received as many volunteer applications as they need for the 2020-2021 academic year.
If you’re interested in helping train our future physicians, here are a few of the Patient Program volunteer opportunities currently available:
Volunteer Patients (VP) are individuals who participate as themselves and share their own medical history with students. The Patient Program is currently looking for VPs who have experience living with and managing a mental illness. Our second-year students will interview you for one hour about your experiences, including your current mental status, history of presenting diagnosis, and coping strategies, such as medication. A tutor physician will be present to guide the interview, and you can expect both the students and tutor to show confidentiality, attentive listening, and empathy. Sessions will take place on Wednesday and Friday afternoons in mid-October, though the number of times you volunteer can vary depending on the program’s needs and your availability.
First Patients (FPs) are individuals with chronic, but stable, health conditions that help first-year students to view the healthcare system from the patient perspective. As a FP, you will virtually meet with your students in a short series of convenient sessions spread out over 11 months. You will truly be the first patient these medical students get to know well. Your interactions will show them the reality of living with an illness and introduce them to the human side of medicine. Your students will also learn the importance of long-term relationship building and clear communication in healthcare. And as you help train them to be more self-aware, empathetic, patient-centred and effective doctors, you may find they help you define your own healthcare goals in the process.
Standardized Patients (SP) are healthy individuals who act as patients while instructors teach and assess our MD students. As a SP, you will be trained to realistically portray patient symptoms and histories in the same way for multiple students. You will need to memorize scenarios, mimic physical symptoms, and convincingly portray a range of emotions. The cases vary depending on the complexity of symptoms and background history, but they will all help teach our students vital skills like history-taking in a controlled setting. Individuals of all ages, genders, and backgrounds are encouraged to participate. Sessions range from 10 – 40 minutes, and you can volunteer as much as you like, depending on the program’s needs and your suitability to a given role.
To learn about becoming a FP, SP, or VP—or to discover the other volunteer opportunities currently available—please contact the IMP Patient Program. You can connect with Karen Basi, Patient Programs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-213-1173.