New program for health educators is first in Canada

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This fall, McMaster University will launch a new masters program in health science education to meet the demand from health care professionals in North America who want to earn a higher degree in education.


How to teach is not generally included in the education of health professionals, but many later take on that responsibility during their career.

This fall, McMaster University will launch a new masters program in health science education to meet the demand from health care professionals in North America who want to earn a higher degree in education.

One of the program’s first applicants is pediatrician Dr. Moyez Ladhani, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, who recognizes this is a next step in the development of his educational research and leadership skills.

He enjoys teaching, curriculum development and assessment in his various roles as a clinical educator, program director of the pediatric residency program and chair of the student advisory program which monitors students’ academic progress throughout medical school.

“I have implemented new curriculums and many assessment tools,” he said. “At this point, I would like to become more scholarly…I see this program as a good avenue for that.”

Ladhani said the beauty of this program is that it is located at McMaster where he will get to work with many of his colleagues. “I can do it while continuing with my current clinical and academic work,” he said.

The program was set up so it can be taken part-time, says Dr. Alan Neville, associate dean, education for the Faculty of Health Sciences.

“Despite having well-known educational researchers in our faculty at McMaster, if people wanted a master’s degree specifically in health science education (in the past), they had to go outside Hamilton,” he said.

Several McMaster faculty are currently taking such training online through the University of Chicago in the U.S.; Maastricht University in The Netherlands or the University of Dundee in Scotland, he added.

The Master of Science in Health Science Education (MSc HS Education) program offered by the Faculty of Health Sciences is targeted to health care practitioners and clinical educators (such as physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, midwives, physician assistants and others) who want to teach or conduct research in health professional education.

The director of the program is Kelly Dore, an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, who points out that change in the educational environment for health professionals is inevitable.

“It’s our job to foster the development of health profession educators who are able to not only face the challenges but to be leaders of change in the years ahead,” she said.

Neville said: “There is an emerging trend towards a new scholarship of education which extends beyond the more traditional role of conducting research and publishing for faculty to gain promotion and tenure at a university or college.”

For many years McMaster has offered education programs for its professors through faculty development programs and initiatives such as workshops and the University’s Centre for Leadership in Learning. However, some instructors have been asking for more. The new masters program offers them this opportunity.

The program has an emphasis on the different health professions working together and the program is designed to develop skills in both research and scholarship in health professional education.

The program will be conducted mainly online. Students can choose between course-based or thesis-based paths.

Online courses are offered in cognition and curriculum, simulation/technical and non-technical skills, online learning, educational leadership, assessment and evaluation and research methods. There are two mandatory week-long in-person residency periods.

“We want to make the program as interprofessional as possible so people bring their different clinical and professional backgrounds to the class. This has always been important at McMaster,” Neville said.

It is anticipated about 20 applicants will be accepted into the program in its first year beginning in October, 2012. The plan is to create “a large community of scholars,” Neville said.