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  • The IMP unveils a new volunteer patient program

    Jul 4, 2017 | Posted by: Joy Kirstin & Rhys Mahannah

    Starting in January 2018, the Island Medical Program (IMP) will pilot a new 11-month patient program that pairs medical students with members of the community who are living with a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, or inflammatory bowel disease.

    The initiative, called the First Patient Program (FPtP), will give students a longitudinal understanding of their First Patient’s experience – that is, how a chronic condition affects the patient over time, including their social, mental, and emotional well-being.

    The First Patient Program will join the IMP’s roster of other well-established clinical skills and family practice clinical sessions, designed for Year 1 and 2 students. These include face-to-face time with volunteer patients, standardized patients, clinical teaching associates, and clinical experience in family practice settings with Family Practice preceptors.


    Increasing Self-Awareness and Developing Empathy

    The IMP’s First Patient Program, modeled after the First Patient Program at Queen’s University School of Medicine, integrates medical students into the lives of their patients. This first-hand experiential training – which focuses on melding a personal and professional approach to long-term care – leads to more self-aware, empathetic, and effective doctors.

    How does the program work? In their January semester, two first-year students are paired with one volunteer patient, the First Patient. Besides a short summer break, students will work with their patient for 11 months, until December of their second year.

    During this time, students will connect with their patient at least five times. In addition to an at-home consultation, students will also accompany their patient to two primary physician appointments and, at a minimum, two other medically relevant appointments.

    Students will become familiar with their patient’s medical history, document the patient’s story and circumstances, and research the patient’s experience with chronic issues. As a result, students will better understand the psychosocial, family, cultural, and religious issues that may affect the patient’s situation. The patient’s primary physician, known as a First Patient Physician, will provide guidance throughout the 11-month period and review the students’ assignments.

    First Patient Physician Involvement

    If you are a physician (family practice or other specialty) with patients who may be interested in becoming First Patients, or if you would like to apply to be a First Patient Physician, please contact Karen Basi, the IMP’s Patient Programs Coordinator, at karenpri@uvic.ca or 250-370-8111 ext. 12386.