New course focuses on improving indigenous healthcare experience

Course focuses on the role of the health care practitioners in indigenous wellness

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A newly launched post professional course spearheaded by Continuing Medical Education and Continuing Physical Therapy Education aims to help improve indigenous healthcare safety and wellness among Saskatchewan healthcare providers.

Stacey Lovo Grona, Director, Continuing Physical Therapy Education, is part of a team that has been working closely with local indigenous communities and scholars for the past two years to help in creating an online course that addressed the needs of the communities called The Role of Practitioners in Indigenous Wellness.’

“We know that health outcomes for indigenous people are well below the rest of Canadians,” Lovo Grona explained. “We all have a right to equal healthcare, and that’s just not happening. So we were hoping to do our part to improve the safety and health care experience for indigenous people.”

The three modules they’ve created focus on the role of the health practitioner in indigenous wellness. The first module engages the practitioners themselves through self-reflection activities – looking at their own cultural upbringing and awareness. The second and third modules then focus on the historical issues faced by the indigenous community that have led to inter-generational trauma and racism, followed by information on how to create a safe and culturally accepted healthcare environment.

“The three modules form an online course which takes approximately 24-hours to complete,” Lovo Grona continued. “It is a highly interactive program with self-reflection journals and blogs. Blogs allow participants to communicate with other learners about the content.”  

Some portions of the course are private, allowing the students to comment on their own thoughts and processes in a confidential reflection journal.

“It’s meant to be highly engaging, and centered around learner preferences for level of interaction” she stressed.

While the team has been working on the course for a couple years, the first course coincided with U of S signing the Truth and Reconciliation pact.  The course also reflects the focus the College of Medicine has on making indigenous health a priority for students and practitioners.

The first cohort of students are currently taking part in the program, and a second class is set to roll out in September, and Lovo-Grona is thrilled that the program has been getting positive feedback from the registrants.

The program underwent a formal pilot in the fall.  Fourteen health providers completed the pilot program and provided valuable feedback that informed a final quality review and edits to the course. 

While the communities that participated in helping to create the course content are all from Saskatchewan, the modules could be of value to practitioners across Canada who work with Indigenous communities.

The team responsible for the module includes Dr. Andries Muller, Selene Kerpan, Rochelle Yelland, Heather Stenerson, and Dan Mittleholtz (Continuing Medical Education); Dr. Veronica McKinney (Family Medicine); Dr. Sarah Oosman (Physical Therapy); and Dr. Jennifer Poudrier (Sociology – College of Arts and Science). Indigenous community members, Elders, and scholars also contributed to the development and review of the modules, and shared their stories and experiences for the benefit of the learners.