Interprofessional Pain Management Master's Program
Advance your health care practice
A scientific approach to healing that fosters confident clinicians
It’s not just about the skills you learn; in the Interprofessional Pain Management program it’s about how they change your practice. Competency-based education means students are evaluated based on how they apply the knowledge they learn, and its effective integration in their patient care, rather than testing knowledge retention in a formal evaluation setting.
This program is ideal for those who are seeking new skills and expertise to enhance their own practice, and the preparation to take on leadership roles in policy development, research, academia and beyond. This program is designed for health care professionals from a variety of disciplines, including medicine, physiotherapy, pharmacy, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, psychology and others.
Creativity and Clinical Reasoning
Pain is a subjective experience; for clinicians, that means there’s no one right technique or treatment plan for every patient. In the program, clinicians are taught to challenge traditional ways of thinking and being in practice. Students are instead encouraged to seek creative solutions, and supported in their development of advanced clinical reasoning and critical thinking skills. These skills are essential for understanding and treating diverse experiences of pain, and for clinicians working in pain management to master.
- Receive one-on-one support and guidance from an experienced mentor during your clinical mentorship
- Be evaluated on your professional accomplishments and through authentic learning experiences
- Learn to apply clinical decision making skills to develop comprehensive and individualized healing plans for patients
- Design and carry out a group research project and write a publication-ready scientific paper
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Advance your profession and initiate change around you.
Transform all aspects of your practice and develop the specialized skills to become an advanced clinician in just one year of full-time study. Learn from a combination of self-directed online materials, and support from renowned clinical mentors and pain management experts. Become a leader, problem-solver and advanced health care practitioner.
Graduates from the Interprofessional Pain Management program are confident, advanced clinicians who thoughtfully engage in evidence-informed practice, and effectively reflect on and draw from their experience and knowledge to inform care.
In this online program, students work remotely with an experienced mentor to build individualized learning competencies within their own work environments. Throughout the program, students build an e-portfolio to demonstrate how they’re applying the knowledge they’re accruing, and to measure its effect on their practice. Through entrustable professional activities (EPAs) provided by the mentor, such as case studies and journal submissions, students are encouraged to continuously reflect on their learning and knowledge application.
As part of an emerging field, pain management experts are imperative in educating other clinicians on the importance of evidence-informed pain-management practice, and integrating that knowledge across healthcare environments.
Additionally, in a health landscape that is facing pain-management challenges like the current chronic pain crisis, advanced health care practitioners can engage in public health education and knowledge sharing, empower patients and advocate on their behalf. Graduates of the Interprofessional Pain Management program are prepared to face these challenges through learning activities that promote the development of their leadership, communication and public education skills.
Working with practice-based and clinical mentors provides students with the opportunity to observe how their mentor approaches their roles as a leader and educator, and recognize how these can be integrated into their own practice and their own future opportunities to become mentors.
Full-term courses in this program are not required but are available to help students build evidence of their competencies. Students are strongly advised to take a course in Critical Appraisal of Research and Special Topics in Pain Management, which involves weekly meetings with a Pain Management expert and program peers.
Through weekly online discussions, students hear from clinicians at the forefront of the pain management field, and engage in interprofessional discussion and collaboration with their classmates. Learners are exposed to different perspectives in pain management, and become familiar with the public education needs within the field.
This program encourages learners to share their knowledge and publish articles on a public education forum. Students have the chance to apply their communication and advocacy skills in practice. They are also asked to conduct research and make an oral presentation as part of the program, which prepares them to engage in thought leadership beyond their graduate education.
The Pain Management program is interdisciplinary by nature, bringing together clinicians from diverse backgrounds. Students learn content together, and explore how to apply it in different ways within their own practice. Throughout the program, students learn with, from, and about each other and share how pain management actualizes within their own profession and those of their colleagues.
Students also develop connections with the various experts that consult with the class, the leading pain management researchers at Western University and their clinical mentors. The result is a graduating cohort of advanced health care practitioners that are connected by their shared expertise, and able to leverage their interdisciplinary network to promote collaboration across professions. Some of the experts students will have the opportunity to interact with within the virtual classroom include:
- Geoff Bellingham, MD, FRCP(C) (Schulich School of Medicine, Western University)
- Eldon Loh, MD, FRCP(C) (Schulich School of Medicine, Western University
- Tim Wideman, PT, PhD (School of Occupational and Physical Therapy, McGill University)
- Rick Csiernik, MSW, PhD (School of Social Work, King’s College, Western University)
- Sandra Smeltzer, PhD (Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Western University)
- Kathryn Birnie, RPsych, PhD (School of Medicine, University of Calgary)
- Dwight Moulin, MD, FRCP(C) (Schulich School of Medicine, Western University)
- Gordon Guyatt, PhD (Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University)
- Jennifer Irwin, PhD (School of Health Studies, Western University)
Lead. Mentor. Advocate.
Our students leave the program knowledgeable about up-to-date best practices in pain management, and with the confidence to continue to integrate innovative approaches and research into their own practice as well as other professional activities. Students learn to foster effective communication and collaboration in interprofessional settings, and advocate on behalf of their clients. Graduates from this program will have the preparation to take on leadership roles in policy development, research, academia and beyond.
See the bigger picture. Advance your practice.
Graduates from the Advanced Health Care - Interprofessional Pain Management program obtain a comprehensive understanding of holistic patient-centered care. Students learn to leverage evidence-informed clinical skills together with advanced clinical reasoning to assess and manage patients with complex care needs. They readily identify opportunities for incorporating the expertise of other health care professionals. This competency-based program encourages students develop strong self-reflection skills in order to assess potential biases and ethical considerations and evaluate their impact on client care.
Program Structure and Course Offerings
The Interprofessional Pain Management program 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.
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.
Through successful completion of this program, students will have demonstrated mastery of five key competencies:
- Interprofessional Collaboration
- Self-Awareness and Reflexivity
- Critical Reasoning and Creative Problem-Solving
- Empathic Practice and Reasoning
- Pain Expertise
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
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.
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.
Admission and Applying
All applicants must meet the following general requirements, in addition to the specific requirements outlined below.
- A minimum bachelor's degree from a recognized university and at least a (B) standing (or equivalent) over the final two years of the program
- Advanced computer skills
- Two references
- Academic (if attended university within the last five years) and professional
- Demonstrated English language proficiency, including both written and oral communication
- See below for more information
- Be licensed/regulated health/care professional from a discipline related to pain management (nurse, physical therapist, chiropractor, occupational therapist, physician, psychologist, pharmacist, social work, dentist or other regulated professions)
- Show evidence of at least two years clinical experience
Information about mentorship requirements, including pre-placement requirements, will be provided to students once they are admitted to the program and prior to the beginning of classes.
In addition to completing the online application, applicants are required to submit the field-specific supplemental materials outlined below. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all supplemental application materials are uploaded as part of their online application.
Applicants to the Pain Management program are required to submit the following supplemental requirements as part of the application:.
- Academic Transcripts
- Proof of current registration to practice
- Proof of routine exposure to a clinical population
- e.g. proof of employment in a clinical setting, if self-employed then some indication of the practice, like a sample daily caseload (de-identified), clinic website with clinician name listed, etc.
- A statement describing the provisions in place to allow time for the requirements of the program
- e.g. agreement from employer for some degree of protected time, some indication that work can be conducted in parallel with degree requirements
- A personal statement answering the question: "Why have you chosen to apply to this Interprofessional Pain Management program?"
- Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS is recommended)
- A minimum TOEFL score of 620 (paper-based), 105 (internet-based), 260 (computer-based) or an IELTS score of 8 is required
- Students who, after admission, show an inadequate command of spoken or written English must improve their proficiency to the satisfaction of the Faculty of Health Sciences
- Students may be asked to withdraw from the program if their command of English interferes with their ability to provide quality professional services
- Students who are required to present evidence of proficiency in English must make their own arrangements to write the TOEFL and to have the official results sent directly to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
- The English language proficiency requirements outlined above do not apply to students from Quebec
To apply to the Wound Healing program, students should:
- Visit the online application website
- Follow the instructions on that page to access the application
- Select "Advanced Health Care Practice MClSc" from the program options in the application and select the appropriate field
- April 1
- Applications may be accepted after that date if space is available
- Offers of admission are sent out beginning in late April and continue until the program is filled
Frequently Asked Questions
I have not been in school for a while, what if I can’t acquire two academic references?
Students who have not been in school for more than five years may use a person who is not affiliated with a university (non-academic) reference for one of their letters.
What happens if I apply on time, but my references or transcript aren't available until after applications close?
- Applications will not be considered by the admission committee until they are complete
- Starting March 1, the limited spots that are available in the program will be filled by students who have provided complete applications
- Students are strongly encouraged to have applications complete at least two weeks prior to the deadline (March 1) to allow sufficient time for other requirements (transcripts, reference letters) to be delivered
Have you received a complete application from me?
Students may contact the AHCP Program Assistant (email@example.com) at any time to check on the status of an application.
When can I expect to hear whether I have been accepted into the program?
The admission committee will review completed application files beginning mid-March each year. This committee makes recommendations for admission to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS), which reviews required documents to confirm all requirements. Provided all requirements have been met, SGPS will send out a letter of offer of admission by email to the applicant directly. This typically occurs in late May.
Am I eligible to apply if I don’t have two years of clinical experience?
Students can still apply but the admission committee does consider the amount of clinical experience as a criteria for selecting successful applicants.
What constitutes advanced computer skills?
The Advanced Health Care Practice program is a course-based graduate program with many of the required courses delivered using online learning tools. Courses are comprised of several modules each of which include resources (readings, lecture notes, etc.), and learning activities (structured discussions, scheduled teleconferences, assignments, or quizzes). An orientation on how to access and use many of the online learning tools will be provided during the first residency period.
Are there any additional fees outside of tuition for the school year?
All AHCP students pay the same graduate fees. Those students involved in the mentorship program, are levied a fee in addition to graduate fees.
If English is not my first language, what do I need to do?
Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency; the TOEFL or an IELTS is recommended. A minimum TOEFL score of 620 (paper-based), 105 (internet-based), 260 (computer-based) or an IELTS score of 8 is required.
Students who, after admission, show an inadequate command of spoken or written English must improve their proficiency to the satisfaction of the School of Physical Therapy.
Students may be asked to withdraw from the program if their command of English interferes with their ability to provide quality professional services.
Students who are required to present evidence of proficiency in English must make their own arrangements to write the TOEFL and to have the official results sent directly to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
How do I provide proof of Malpractice Insurance?
Please bring a copy of your Malpractice Insurance with you on the first day of orientation.
Can I access computer resources after class hours?
Students have access to Elborn College and the computer labs at all times during residency periods.
How much time should I expect to devote to the program?
Students must be registered as full-time graduate students in the AHCP program. Students are encouraged to continue to work clinically (part-time) during the program in order to be able to incorporate new knowledge and skills into their clinical practice.
Students can expect to devote at least 20 – 30 hours/week to program related activities (i.e. studying, reading, assignments etc).
Can I enroll in courses to complete requirements for competencies?
Yes, students have the option to enroll in relevant courses to gain the required learning competencies. Students can choose from a number of graduate-level online courses in the Faculty of Health Sciences, pending consultation and approval from the AHCP program assistant.