Education strategic plan 2020-2023 banner.
Education  >  Publications  >  2020-2023 Education Strategic Plan  >  Patient as Educator

Patient as Educator

Patient as educator icon.

Partnering with patients and families for the inclusion of their experiences and perspectives in all teaching and learning.

Goal Statement: 

“Patient as Educator” is the standard practice in learner development, patient education, and education research activities.

2023 Success Measures:

  1. Patient educators are embedded in clinical programs across Sunnybrook. Target: 100 per cent of clinical programs have patient educators.
  2. Patient educators will be partners in the development of all new patient education tools. Target: 100 per cent of Patient and Family Education tools will have patient educator input.


The importance of providing patient-centred care is well understood across the health system. Sunnybrook has introduced policies, procedures, and practices designed to provide and to reinvent the highest levels of patient care and patient engagement on an ongoing basis. Patients and caregivers are included not only in the design and delivery of clinical care but also in research and, increasingly, education initiatives with the understanding that this inclusive approach will lead to the design of care that is more responsive to patient needs, resulting, in turn, in improved health outcomes.

The adoption of “Patient as Educator” as a strategic direction places Sunnybrook at the forefront of education practice. The Cancer Program is one of the leaders in “patient as educator” where the patient voice is integrated into education workshops, resources, and health-care provider feedback. The education tools developed help to normalize the cancer treatment experience for others and provide insight from a lived experience perspective. In rolling the “patient as educator” model out across Sunnybrook, given the absence of evidence-informed best practices in many areas, there are differences in how it has been adopted, the results obtained, and the impact achieved.

The opportunity over the next three years includes expanding the role of patients, caregivers and families (“patients”) in the development of all patient education materials as well as finding mechanisms to standardize and expand the role of patients as integral partners in the design and delivery of curriculum for learners and for patients so that all formal education at Sunnybrook is informed by the experiences and perspectives of diverse patients. Success will require identifying patients as coleads and working together to co-ordinate efforts with patients alongside a range of internal partners, including the Office of the Patient Experience, Organizational Development and Leadership, Interprofessional Education and the Peters-Boyd Academy.

Proposed initiatives include the development of robust organizational infrastructure to support the equitable and ethical inclusion of patient partners from diverse backgrounds on care teams. New and different – and a significant culture change initiative – is the inclusion of patients in providing feedback to learners about communication, teaching, and care competencies. This will require the development of training to build the capacity of patient partners to provide credible and action-oriented feedback, as well as the design of appropriate tools and a roll-out process that reflects the needs, interests, and sensitivities of all involved parties.

Given the leading-edge nature of this work, resources will be assigned to the ongoing capture and evaluation of “patient as educator” initiatives to inform the development of best practices for sharing internally as well as provincially and nationally.

Objectives, Tactics and Measures »

Objective 1: Build “Patient as Educator” capacity to inform the design and delivery of all learner and patient education curricula across Sunnybrook

Tactic 1: Define patient as educator competencies and best practices.

Tactic 2: Build a pool of patient educator experts who represent diverse cultures and experiences.

Tactic 3: Build capacity and capability for physicians and clinical staff to ethically engage with patients as education partners.

Tactic 4: Develop and launch a digital hub on for communicating “patient as educator” initiatives and their impact, and a digital toolkit for staff on


  • Number of clinical teams that participate in “patient as educator” master course
  • Number of patient educator experts by clinical program
  • Number of “patient as educator” initiatives posted on digital hub

Objective 2: Engage “patients as educators” in enhancing the education of other patients and learners

Tactic 1: Support patient educators in providing feedback to learners on their teaching and communication skills.

Tactic 2: Plan and implement the inclusion of patient educators in the development of all patient and family education resources.


  • Number of clinical teams that implement patient educators as part of the learner feedback process
  • Number and type of patient education resources developed with patient educator involvement
  • Percentage of patients satisfied or highly satisfied with patient educator developed education resources

Objective 3: Capture and share outcomes from patient as educator initiatives

Tactic 1: Establish “patient as educator” as a priority in Education Research and Scholarship.

Tactic 2: Create a community of practice across the clinical programs.

Tactic 3: Develop and implement an evaluation framework for the learner feedback initiative.


  • Number of “patient as educator” papers published
  • Number of “patient as educator” quality improvement initiatives or other “patient as educator” research occurring at Sunnybrook
  • Number of active participants in community of practice