2018 Report on Education
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Patient as Educator

“Hearing the experiences of patient educators [helped me understand] the importance of proper nutrition and commitment to moderate exercise.” - Cancer patient



Tamara Harth,
Program Manager, Patient & Family Education

The goal of the Patient as Educator priority is to position Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre as the Canadian leader in engaging patients and families as teachers and educators.

Patient and families can offer education and teaching based on their lived experiences. These learnings and insights provide current and future patients with validation of their experience, relevant knowledge and a personalized plan on what they need to know about their specific condition. This can result in better care experiences and patient empowerment. Furthermore, patients can provide valuable feedback to health care providers about their teaching skills with the goal of clear communication, making the education they provide actionable and ultimately improving clinical outcomes.

To achieve the patient as educator goal, we have:

  • Conducted an organization-wide patient as educator survey which collected baseline data about patient as educator initiatives across Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  • Developed and implemented a patient as educator video about providing patient care closer to home
  • Rolled out over 10 patient education sessions with patient teachers
  • Provided funding for the creation of 19 patient education resources that embedded the patient voice into the design and development of these tools
  • Trained over 65 staff and physicians in health literacy to ensure they provide eff ective teaching to patients and families
  • Served over 16,000 patients and families at our learning centres

We accomplished…

  1. How to model patient as educator initiatives across the health care system
  2. An integration of the patient voice into our education platforms
  3. An understanding of the quantity and quality of patient as educator initiatives across Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
  4. Learning what education methods and content were most meaningful to patients and families across Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

To ensure our goal is achieved, we aim to develop a curriculum for patient as educator to facilitate a best practice standardized approach for patient educators. To do this, we are creating three patient as educator initiatives for patients teaching patients and/or families to enable patient-to-patient transfer of knowledge and experience.

Medical clerks doing a surgical rotation at Sunnybrook are provided the opportunity to learn from patients about their surgical experiences where patients become the teachers and the students learn about the surgical journey from the perspectives of patients.

Lastly, we are embedding patient as educator into patient-oriented discharge.

These initiatives will be measured by reporting on the number of Sunnybrook patients and families involved in educating:

  • Other patients
  • Other staff or physicians, and/or
  • Other student learners or residents

Based on 86 responses to a patient as educator survey:

  • 24 indicated that patients participate in special workshops/presentations to educate other patients about their treatment/condition
  • 15 indicated that patients co-facilitate classes
  • 26 indicated that patients participate on panels to educate patients/families other health care professionals including physicians
  • 28 indicated that patients participate in educational videos

Patient & family education at Sunnybrook, by the numbers:

  • 67: Number of trained staff and physicians on health literacy
  • 16,291: Number of served patients/families in our learning centres
  • 19: Number of funded new evidence-based patient education tools