2020 Report on Education
Education  >  Publications  >  2020 Sunnybrook Report on Education  >  Education research & scholarship

Education research & scholarship

Lesley Gotlib Conn, Affiliate Scientist, Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Trauma,
Emergency & Critical Care Research Program, and Lisa Di Prospero, Director,
Practice-based Research & Innovation
Lesley Gotlib Conn, Affiliate Scientist, Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Trauma, Emergency & Critical Care Research Program, and Lisa Di Prospero, Director, Practice-based Research & Innovation

The goal of the Education Research & Scholarship priority is to build capacity for education research and scholarship that focuses on improving patient outcomes and learner experiences.

Education Research is applying research methodology to a question and/or area of inquiry related to health professional, trainee and patient education.

Education Scholarship refers to approaches in teaching and learning that advance the practice of teaching and contribute to the knowledge in a field of practice or across disciplines.

The primary goals for 2019 were to continue to build capacity, increase our influence within the system and start to build an infrastructure to support the quality and output of our educational research and scholarship.

Three streams of activity were the focus on our work over the last year:

  1. Integrate & elevate: Education research and scholarship as part of our research priorities.
  2. Enhance & leverage: Build education research support and mentoring infrastructure.
  3. Alignment & partnerships: Leverage and integrate research and education scholarship internally and externally.

All our streams of activities are driven by: quality, meaning and influence. Within all of our streams of activity, our focus is to highlight the intersection between practice and education research.

The Education Research Unit Advisory Committee (ERU-AC) provides oversight related to the direction and priority of our work. The members represent a broad perspective of education research and scholarship across the organizations within all roles and across professions.

“I was invited to join the Education Research committee in 2018 and jumped at the opportunity for several reasons. First, I believed this would be a great opportunity for our Organizational Development and Leadership department to collaborate with Education Research and offer a different perspective. Secondly, research methodology is at the heart of my training, as I graduated with a Ph.D in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. This was the perfect chance to apply my research methodology training to an applied setting. Moving forward I am very excited to collaborate on future initiatives with Education Research!” 
 Kyle Stanyar, PhD, MS, Organizational Development & Leadership Associate PhD Industrial-Organizational Psychology, M.S. Applied Psychology, Clemson University


Integrate & elevate

Education Research Scientist Professorship

The Education Research Scientist will develop an independent program of research in an area relevant to Sunnybrook’s education priorities. The scientist will support our commitment to build capacity and activities to support education research and scholarship broadly through collaborations with our education scientists, researchers, clinician investigators, graduate students and learners. This professorship is possible thanks to the Academic Clinicians' Management Services (ACMS).

Jordan Tarshis
Jordan Tarshis,
ACMS Executive

ACMS is a not-for-profit corporation which serves the administrative needs of medical and dental practitioners. Formerly called Sunnybrook Hospital University of Toronto Clinic (SHUTC), ACMS has been serving physicians and dentists since 1973. For over two decades, ACMS has held funds in a Trust for the purpose of promoting education among clinicians at Sunnybrook. In 2019, this Trust was dissolved and the proceeds donated to the Sunnybrook Foundation for the purpose of creating the ACMS Professorship in Educational Research. This $5-million donation will create an endowed fund to support this Professorship in accordance with Sunnybrook and University of Toronto policies. ACMS is proud to be part of Sunnybrook’s commitment to research and innovation in health-care education.

ERU-SRI Education Research appointments grid

In 2018, the ERU-SRI grid was established to systematically recognize our clinicians involved in education research at Sunnybrook. The grid was used to formally capture our reach and influence across the system through our publication activity.

Leading & Influencing: ERU appointed researchers publication capture

  • 26 Inaugural Appointees ECS Platform
  • 7 Professions
  • 12 Programs/departments

Annual Education Research & Scholarship grant

The purpose of this funding opportunity is to provide operating grants to facilitate education scholarship and research at Sunnybrook. The mandate for funds is to enable SEAC and its Education research unit to:

  1. Build ongoing capacity
  2. Raise the profile of education research and scholarship within Sunnybrook
  3. Raise Sunnybrook’s profile with respect to education research and scholarship externally
  4. Produce measurable markers of success

For the purpose of this funding, education is taken to include any phase in the training of clinicians (ranging from teaching students at all levels to facilitating continuing education and professional development) as well as the education of other hospital staff, patients, families and volunteers.

A snapshot of innovative education research grants supported through our funding opportunity:

  • “The Impact of Gender Bias on Resident Assessments”
    Fahad Alam, Zeev Friedman, Alayne Kealey, Julia Haber, Dylan Bould, and Chris Chin

  • “Using Whiteboard Videos to Raise Awareness of Hypertension in Pregnancy: Design and user testing of a patient education resource”
    Karen Fleming, Rachel McDonald, Sarah Whyte, Heather Davidson, and Daria Geferer

  • “Virtual Reality as a Tool to Reduce Pre-procedure Anxiety Prior ECT via Enhancing Patient Education (PERFECT-VR)”
    Peter Giacobbe, Fahad Alam, Mark Rapaport, Nathan Herrmann, Gina Stokes, Lilia Kaustov, and Clyde Matava

  • "Surgical Trainees’ Beliefs and Attitudes Regarding the Value of Geriatric Trauma Care in Residency Training”
    Lesley Gotlib Conn, Barbara Haas, Avery Nathens, Matthew Guttman, and Najma Ahmed

  • “Improving Person-centred Care (PCC) and Symptom Management for Patients with Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) through Interprofessional Multimodal Education and Implementation of Site-specific Symptom Screening: A pilot study”
    Marlene Jacobson, Janet Ellis, Kevin Higgins, Alva Murray, Lesley Gotlib Conn, Melissa Korman, Tracey DasGupta, Ari Zaretsky, and Danny Enepekides

  • “To Investigate Barriers to Cancer Patient Engagement in the Continuing Professional Development Programs within the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Toronto: A qualitative study”
    Ewa Szumacher, Tamara Harth, Rebecca Wong, Morag Paton, Hany Soliman, Lisa Di Prospero, Nicole Harnett, Carlo D’Angelis, Laura D’Alimonte, and Chaitali Desai

Education Research & Scholarship Grants

# of grant submissions Amount requested Amount granted # of teams
2019 10 $91,000 $62,000 8
2018 7* $55,000 $44,000 5
2017 13 $107,000 $59,755 7
2016 19 $170,000 $53,283 6
2015 14 $114,000 $65,384 8
2014 18 $152,367 $43,450 7
2013 27 $240,000 $60,000 7
*of the seven submissions received, six were being considered for innovative curriculum

2019 at a glance:

  • 10 submitted ($80K) – increase 20 per cent
  • 8 funded ($60K)
  • +1 PBRI-ERU funded
  • 5 Innovative Curriculum
  • 2 Simulation
  • 2 Non-MD (0 last year)
Jeffrey J.H. CheungJeffrey J.H. Cheung, MSc, PhD Currie Fellow, The Wilson Centre (2017-2019) University Health Network and University of Toronto, Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Education University of Illinois, Chicago College of Medicine.

"For the past four years, I have served on the Scientific Review Panel for the Sunnybrook Education Research and Scholarship Grant (ERSG). As a PhD research fellow from The Wilson Centre at the University Health Network and University of Toronto, it has been a wonderful opportunity to for me to learn about the exciting education research projects taking place at Sunnybrook, advocate for funding of high-impact high-quality proposals, and use my research expertise to provide feedback and guidance to investigators and their research projects. I believe the efforts of the Scientific Review Panel for the ERSG has improved Sunnybrook’s capacity for education research and supported work that has, and will continue to, make meaningful contributions to education practice within Sunnybrook and the broader academic health professions education community. It has been especially rewarding to see the quality of the submissions improve each year and to even see projects resubmitted after incorporating the panel’s feedback from the year prior.”

“Resoundingly, it has been a pleasure to work with the talented and thoughtful members of the Sunnybrook Education Advisory Council to support education scholarship at Sunnybrook. I look forward to seeing the great work that will arise as a result of this inspiring commitment to education at Sunnybrook.”

Guna Budrevics.Guna Budrevics, CPHQ, CTDP Performance Improvement Specialist, Quality & Patient Safety Department.

NewPatient engagement in research

Our granting call includes a purposeful intention to include patient and family engagement as a part of the research priorities. All applicants are asked to discuss how patient and families are engaged within their research to ensure the research is of value and meaning to the community we serve.

Enhancing Radiation Therapy Patient Education through Evidence-based Co-design
Tamara Harth, Mikki Campbell & Guna Budrevics
*Supported by the PBRI-ERU Joint Seed Grant.

“Experience Based Co-Design (EBCD) is an exciting new quality improvement tool that uses patients’ experiences with the health care system as a foundational design principle. By capturing and deeply understanding patients’ perceptions, experiences and impressions healthcare providers are able to truly partner with patients in meaningful and focused activities related to improving clinical processes. By bringing patients into their improvement teams, clinicians using EBCD discover innovative approaches to delivering highquality care, and create improvements that benefit both providers and clients.”

Paula RowlandPaula Rowlands, PhD, Scientist, The Wilson Centre, joined us to present her talk titled: “Competency Based CPD and ‘Learning at Work’” at our Education Research Rounds.

Enhance & leverage

Awareness and engagement: Education Research Rounds

The Education Research Rounds showcase education research both internally and externally to Sunnybrook and link directly to one of our four priorities.

We conduct these rounds on a quarterly basis and invite both internal and external facilitators to present their work. We have continued to see an increase in attendance both across professions as well as programs.

Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
Attendees 5 26 32 -
Professions 4 12 17 -
“Fantastic! Lots to think about!”

“Speaker demonstrated vast knowledge of subject. Well done presentation.”

“Excellent presentation and very thought provoking.”
“Exceptional talk, topic, and presenter. Super engaging. Very relevant.”
Farid MiahMd Farid Miah,
Manager, Library Services

Education Research Unit section on Sunnynet

Average # of hits per month: 169
Total # of hits: (July 2018 - Sept 2019) 2,533

Building capacity & quality: Education Scholars Fund

Each year, Sunnybrook education offers a competitive funding opportunity to reimburse the cost of tuition for an approved continuing education training program aimed at enhancing research skills. Successful applicants use this skill set to conduct scholarly investigation into questions relating to learning or practice at any phase in the training of clinicians as well as the education of other hospital staff, patients, families and volunteers.

“In 2017, I was recruited to design a new simulation OSCE for the incoming competency-based medical education (CBME) emergency medicine residency cohort. Though I had completed a simulation fellowship at the Sydney Clinical Skills & Simulation Centre in Australia, I did not have much experience in designing simulation for assessment.

Lorne Costello.Lorne Costello, MD, FRCPC
Emergency Physician, Sunnybrook Health Sciences
Centre and Michael Garron Hospital Director, Undergraduate Medical Education, Department of Emergency Services, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

The Education Scholars Fund (ESF) helped to address this gap by supporting me to attend the Principles of Assessment in Simulation Supplement (PASS) course in Ottawa this past month. This workshop provided the knowledge and skills to incorporate simulationbased assessment principles and development strategies into CBME, understand the features of simulation that may promote or threaten efforts in assessment, and apply validity frameworks to simulation based-assessment strategies.”

“I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is involved in using simulation for any kind of assessment. Not only did I gain a new understanding of assessment in simulation, I also received invaluable, practical feedback on how to improve my own simulation OSCE. I am grateful that the ESF allowed me this opportunity to improve my education scholarship efforts!”

NewAlignment & partnerships 

Building capacity: Inaugural Education Research intensive workshop

  • 10 Learners
  • 6 Professions
  • Rankings of 4.5 to 5 (excellent)

In 2019, we offered our inaugural workshop to support our education researchers. The intensive workshop afforded our learners the opportunity to delve into the foundational principles of how to conduct education research. The workshop was a partnership between our Education Research Leads from our Sunnybrook Simulation Centre & Faculty at The Wilson Centre.

Natalie Coburn.Natalie Coburn, MD, MPH, FRCSC, FACS
Sherif and Mary Lou Hanna Chair in Surgical Oncology Research, Hepatobiliary, Pancreatic and Gastrointestinal Surgical Oncology

As a result of our commitment to integrate research across all of our priorities within education at Sunnybrook, our Master Class for Teachers was expanded (in partnership with the Student Experience & Culture priority) to offer three sessions per year. Our Master Class affords our teachers the opportunity to learn from expert education researchers and teachers – research that impacts teaching and learning.

Innovative Curriculum Award

In 2018, education research recognized the scholarship within curriculum design by creating The Innovative Curriculum Award. The award recognizes an educator or team of educators who have designed and/or implemented teaching that is innovative with respect to planning/development, content, methods, delivery and/or evaluation/assessment. Specifically, it recognizes “new, innovative and creative” contributions to teaching and learning for students, staff, clinicians, patients and the community.

Natalie Coburn is the recipient of the 2019 SEAC Celebrating Excellence in Education: Innovative Curriculum Award.

Dr. Natalie Coburn, general surgeon at the Odette Cancer Centre, recognized a gap in the surgical practice in Canada for treating gastric cancer. To close the gap, Dr. Coburn developed the first surgical course on the life-saving D2 Lymph Node Dissection surgery in Canada, bringing to Toronto renowned surgical experts from Japan and South Korea.

Dr. Coburn also established the Canadian Gastric Cancer Association; providing a platform for researchers and clinicians to share information and build collaboration across the country, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for patients with the rare cancer.

Impact to care, teaching & learning: The stories

Compassion fatigue (CF) is the profound sense of emotional exhaustion that care providers can experience as the result of helping others in distress. CF has not been adequately characterized or explored among surgical trainees. Our study examined the prevalence and impact of CF in surgical trainees with a view to inform a management strategy. This mixed methods study used a survey, including the Professional Quality of Life Scale Version 5, and interview methods. One hundred and fifteen trainees completed the survey and twenty were interviewed.

We identified high levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress among participants. Interviews indicated trainees experienced CF symptoms and systemic barriers to mitigating CF including workload and a cultural expectation to be unemotional at work. Our study identified a significant opportunity for CF prevention and intervention in the Department of Surgery.

Paul Karanicolas, Natashia Seemann, Matthew Guttman, Avery Nathens, Homer Tien, Janet Ellis, Ari Zaretsky, and Lesley Gotlib Conn.

Drs. Dori Seccareccia, Giovanna Sirianni, and Irene Ying.Drs. Dori Seccareccia, Giovanna Sirianni, and Irene Ying.

Compassion fatigue in surgical trainees

University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) faculty members Dr. Giovanna Sirianni, Dr. Dori Seccareccia, and Dr. Irene Ying discuss the importance of practicing empathy in clinical encounters in their new podcast, About Empathy. Each episode of the podcast features a powerful story from a guest – either a patient, caregiver or health-care provider – on their experiences with serious illness, followed by an engaging discussion and reflection on how we could support empathic interactions in the healthcare community.

Giovanna Sirianni, BSc (Hons), MD, CCFP (PC), FCFP.