Raising the bar: The future of medical education in Canada

September 11, 2018
A laboratory technician manipulating a test tube

It takes years and years of training to become a doctor, nurse or any other healthcare practitioner. It takes years and years more to master the skills demanded of those occupations. The truth about a career in medicine is no matter the specialty, learning continues long after the graduation caps hit the floor. Continuing medical education (CME) is required for specialists to meet and maintain certain licensing and certification requirements, to gain professional growth, and keep up-to-date with the latest developments in a chosen field of practice. For patients, CME means peace of mind in that when they visit the hospital, they can trust they will receive the best treatment from the very best healthcare providers who are trained to get the job done right.

One doc who understands the importance of CME is Dr. Michael Froeschl. His enthusiasm, passion, and proficiency with regard to advancing CME initiatives in Canada have earned him national praise. A program director of the Cardiology Residency Training Program, and a staff interventional cardiologist at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Dr. Froeschl was awarded a top prize for his efforts to improve various elements of the lives of resident doctors. In April, he was presented with the Mikhael Award for Medical Education, an accolade which is bestowed annually by Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) to those who have demonstrated outstanding contributions which improve undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in the country. RDoC is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 10,000 resident doctors across Canada. It collaborates with other national health organizations to foster excellence in training, wellness, and patient care.

Froeschl, Michael
Dr. Michael Froeschl, Recipient of the 2017-18 RDoC Mikhael Award for Medical Education

“Dr. Froeschl is known as an exceptional program director who is extremely committed to education and resident well-being. He has made continual efforts as a program director to improve the resident experience, including revising the program’s approach to research, securing guaranteed funding for an additional year of cardiology training for residents interested in pursuing a career in research, and helping residents reach their career goals by ensuring their participation in a formal mentoring program,” writes Todd Coopee, Manager of Communications and Operations of RDoC. “Dr. Froeschl has been recognized with a number of awards from the University of Ottawa, the Professional Association of Residents of Ontario, and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and is a recipient of the Diamond Jubilee Medal.”

“It’s an incredible honour to be awarded the Mikhael Award for 2017-18. I was told my nomination was strongly supported by the cardiology residents at the University of Ottawa. This is a huge endorsement that the work I do is appreciated by the people I do it for!  To be chosen as a winner among all the worthy candidates in Ottawa, let alone in Canada, is very humbling.”

– Dr. Michael Froeschl, Recipient of the 2017-18 RDoC Mikhael Award for Medical Education.

Dr. Froeschl says there is a need for a competency based medical education (CBME) system, and its development will be a major focus in years to come for advancing CME for Canadian healthcare workers. According to Froeschl, CBME has already arrived in Canada for several specialties. The shift will be to emphasize an outcome-based approach to medical education which involves a more rigorous set of criteria for evaluating a trainee’s individual level of competency to perform specific tasks unassisted, and on a continuing basis.

“We are currently in the planning stages of CBME for cardiology residency training at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute,” says Dr. Froeschl. “The biggest advantage of this new development in medical education—in my opinion—is to ensure in real-time that trainees are acquiring the knowledge, skills and attitudes they require to practice their specialty.”

Dr. Froeschl encourages all trainees to continue working hard and to never stop learning. “If you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Figure out what it is you love to do and pursue that goal with passion and zeal.”