Training future leaders in refugee health

June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – The Canadian Collaboration for Immigrants and Refugee Health held its fourth National Summer Institute on Refugee Health from May 31 to June 5. This unique and innovative program for medical student leaders focused on knowledge and tools to develop and lead refugee health outreach programs. This year, students from 11 universities throughout Canada as well as from Cairo and Beirut attended.

"Thanks to this program, doctors are coming together to train national and international student health leaders. We are preparing future doctors for refugee care and providing refugee families with timely service and innovation. This program truly invests in future capacity-building for Canada and beyond. It provides a springboard for global health and Doctors Without Borders field work" explains Dr. Kevin Pottie, investigator at the Bruyère Research Institute and physician at the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre.

Over 1600 program graduates have gone on to lead refugee health initiatives, nationally and internationally, in fields such as family medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics. The intensive one-week program took place at the Catholic Centre for Immigrants in Ottawa where 100 refugees from as many as ten countries participated. "It was an extraordinary experience to be able to learn from experts in their fields. Not only were we able to exchange with doctors who have hands-on experience, we interacted with refugees on a personal level in what was the most comprehensive learning experience," says Juliana Barrera, medical student at the University of Ottawa. In particular, students learned to communicate with refugees, conducted grocery store field trips through a special nutrition program and ate with the refugee families.

New this year, the National Summer Institute on Refugee Health began to address an acute need for community mental health skills and services. "Dr. Anne Mantini and Dr. Morton Beiser led a community-based intervention for refugees with post-traumatic stress disorder, the newest innovation added to the yearly program. This initiative will have a direct impact on refugees who have suffered hardship before being welcomed in Canada," reveals Dr. Pottie. "We are working towards optimizing the mental health capacity among future practitioners to benefit refugees across Canada."

Dr. Pottie; Drs. Gruner and Ponka of the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre; Dr. Kassam of the University of Ottawa; Heather Thomson, nurse practitioner at the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre and Dr. Mantini of the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital led this year’s National Summer Institute on Refugee Health. Generous supporters included Doctors Without Borders Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the WHO Collaborating Centre at the Bruyère Research Institute.

About Bruyère Research Institute

The Bruyère Research Institute supports investigators who contribute to a better, more responsive health care system that delivers the best care to patients and families. The Institute is a proud partner of Bruyère Continuing Care, the University of Ottawa and others and provides solutions to improve the health and health care of aging and frail Canadians. The Institute’s research focuses primarily on evidence, health system evaluation, brain health, geriatrics and rehabilitation, and primary care.  

For more information, please contact:

Anne-Laure Grenier
Communications and project coordinator
Bruyère Research Institute
613-562-6262, ext. 4024

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