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Online Bridging Program for new international palliative medicine fellows: development and evaluation


Objectives International medical graduates (IMGs) who pursue additional training in another country may encounter unique challenges that compromise their learning experience. This paper describes the development of an Online Bridging Program in the Division of Palliative Care at the University Health Network Toronto and examines its effectiveness in improving IMGs’ readiness for Canadian fellowship training.

Methods The annual Online Bridging Program was developed to help new IMGs transitioning to Canadian palliative fellowship using Kern’s framework for curriculum development. Following a needs assessment, eight online modules with weekly live sessions were developed and underwent external content validation and usability tests. After each iteration, the programme was improved based on participant feedback. Evaluation was conducted first through an online survey immediately on completion of the programme and then through qualitative interviews 6 months into the fellowship. The interviews were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s model for thematic analysis.

Results Nine IMGs participated in the Online Bridging Program from 2018 to 2020. All nine participated in the survey and eight in the interviews. Responses to the online survey were almost unanimously positive, suggesting its effectiveness in assisting the IMGs’ transitions into fellowship. The interviews revealed four major themes: the importance of combining online modules and live sessions, reducing the fellows’ anxiety and easing the transition into their new role, an improved overall learning experience and recognising online format limitations.

Conclusion The Online Bridging Program effectively eased IMG palliative medicine fellows’ transition into training and enhanced their learning experience.

  • education and training

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