Interprofessonal Pain Management

The Interprofessional Pain Management field of the master's-level Advanced Health Care Practice program is designed for healthcare professionals, including medicine, physiotherapy, pharmacy, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, psychology and others, who want to improve their clinical effectiveness in managing complex pain using their own real-world experiences as a platform for learning. The Interprofessional Pain Management field is built upon a competency-based educational framework where learners are focused on the development of core competencies until they have accrued enough evidence to demonstrate mastery in the eyes of an independent reviewer.

Upon completion of the program, students receive a Master of Clinical Science (MClSc) degree in Advanced Health Care Practice with a specialty in Interprofessional Pain Management.

Program Structure: A Competency-Based Education

Competency-based education (CBE) is a different approach to learning with a focus on demonstrable competencies in real-world practice. With traditional approaches, time is fixed (usually a term or semester) while outcome is variable (the mark each student receives). In a CBE approach, time is variable (take as long as is needed to master the competency) but outcome is fixed (everyone masters the competency). In a pure CBE program, courses are replaced by learning activities, practice and implementation of entrustable professional activities. Evidence of mastery is accrued through direct observation, simulations, reflections, and other ways of showing that the learner has mastered the competency in a real-world setting.

Five-Key Competencies

Through successful completion of this program, students will have demonstrated mastery of five key competencies:

  1. Interprofessional Collaboration
  2. Self-Awareness and Reflexivity
  3. Critical Reasoning and Creative Problem-Solving
  4. Empathic Practice and Reasoning
  5. Pain Expertise

Clinical Mentorship

A key component to this program is the academic/clinical mentorship requirement. Students will be assigned their own academic mentor with whom they will meet for standing meetings every two weeks. They will be expected to work with the academic mentor and the program to identify a suitable clinical mentor from whom they would like to learn. This clinical mentor need not necessarily be an expert in pain management, but should be seen as a trusted and respected clinician with whom the learner can engage for a minimum of 15 hours (five hours per term). The nature of this engagement may look different for different learners dependent on context and geographic accessibility. Examples would be discussions of complex patient cases, shadowing, direct mentorship in the clinic, discussions about new clinical knowledge, or learning of new clinical techniques. Learners will maintain a log of each mentorship session, and the clinical mentors will receive a small stipend for their provision of mentorship hours.

Satisfying the clinical mentorship requirement includes:

  • Engagement with approved clinical mentors
  • Submission of an engagement log at the end of each term demonstrating the hours completed and the nature of the mentorship
  • A minimum of five hours per term (15 hours total) of direct interaction between student and clinical mentor
    • These critical interactions should also be captured throughout the student’s portfolio as evidence of mastery of one or more of the required competencies

Learning and Demonstrating Capacity

Although learners may elect to complete a course as a foundation for competency, this program recognized that learning can occur in far more contexts than the classroom. This program includes a series of entrustable professional activities that can be completed under real-world clinical contexts. These include recorded patient interactions and reflections, deep conversations with interprofessional colleagues and staff, capture and interpretation of clinical outcomes, creation of new clinical knowledge through rigorous case-based or N-of-1 type research, and oral conversations and defenses of ideas with experts and peers. Most of the evidence of mastery can be demonstrated in a routine clinical practice, the only difference is that during this program learners will be required to capture, interpret, and reflect upon much of what is traditionally lost as the 'data exhaust' of daily practice.

Instead of a thesis, through the program learners will add their growing evidence of mastery to an electronic (e-)portfolio. Through collaboration with the learner, academic and clinical mentors, the learning team will decide when enough evidence has been accrued for any of the 5 competencies, and that sub-portion of the e-portfolio will then be sent to an independent content expert examiner for review and a judgement of whether the information within demonstrates adequate mastery. There is no oral defense.

If the examiner deems that the content does not demonstrate adequate mastery, the learner has a second chance to bolster the evidence through additional learning activities and can resubmit one time.

Program Timeline

This program allows students to progress through the program at their own pace, taking the necessary time to master each of the five key competencies. While enrolled in the program, students should expect to dedicate an average of 5-10 hours per week to learning activities. It is anticipated that the majority of students will accrue evidence of mastery of the five key competencies within 10-12 months of starting the program. The maximum time allowed to complete the program is 18 months.