Unit Lead: Greg Malin

Unit Supervisors: Brent Thoma & Rob Woods

This unit focuses on the concepts and theoretical framework that the Clinician Educator (CE) will need in order to apply theory to their practice as a clinician educator and to implement the activities learned in other units.  As well, it will equip the CE with the practical skills needed to perform an education consultation and to reflect on and plan for his or her own learning.  This unit will also provide the CE with an orientation to the content and process of the full diploma program.

There are no prequisites for this unit.

This unit must be started first in the diploma program, although it may be taken simultaneously with other units.  Candidates are not required to submit portfolio entries for this unit until all of the other units have been completed.  However, the online module Foundations: Part 1 must be completed before any other units are started. 

Competencies Addressed in this Unit

A CE must be able to:

  1. Explain and compare key theories and principles of medical education
  2. Develop a plan for lifelong learning in medical education
  3. Perform an effective education consultation
  4. Participate in a community of practice

Key Documents

  • Official Royal College Requirements for Foundations Unit
  • Check-in and check-out forms
  • Personal Learning Plan Template
  • Education Scenarios Reflection Document (to be completed at the END)
  • Final Unit Report (to be filled by Unit Supervisor)
  • Task List for Foundations Unit
  • Reading List for Foundations Unit
  • Link to the Royal College Brightspace (Webinar Modules for Foundations).  You will need to register for the Foundations 1 self-study component of this unit by sending a request to:
    • This introductory portion of Unit 1 is mandatory before progressing though any other unit material.  In your email, indicate that you require access to the online component of the Clinical Educator Diploma course.  You will be sent a follow-up email once your registration is complete, with further instructions to access the learning environment.  Indicate your preference for English or French.


By the end of the Unit, the CE will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate comprehension of key education theories, principles, and concepts, by
  • describing and differentiating at least three education theoretical frameworks, e.g., constructivism, behaviourism, social constructivism, situated learning; development of expertise; development of competence
  • outlining the applications to health professions education of the following concepts: adult learning “principles,” competency-based education, problem/task-based learning, community of practice, workplace learning, interprofessional education, societal responsiveness, reflective practice, and learner-centeredness
  • describing the importance to medical education of the following: accreditation, student selection and admission, the education continuum, life-long learning, education innovation
  1. Demonstrate proficiency in education consultation, by
  • performing an effective education consultation, including identifying the education problem, gathering appropriate data, making an education “diagnosis” and making recommendations, and when appropriate being involved in the education intervention or management of the education problem
  1. Demonstrate a commitment to professional development, by
  • reflecting on and planning for ongoing learning in education, based on the candidate’s needs
  • developing a philosophy of teaching and learning based on a theoretical framework
  • identifying strategies to supplement or enhance the self assessment of learning needs
  1. Demonstrate involvement with a community of practice, by
  • identifying a group of interested individuals and engaging in a dialogue or activities related to mutual education interests

Reading Lists & Resources

ICE Blog - International Clinician Educators Blog – Educational Theory Made Practical. Volumes 1-5

  • Resource that presents key theories, concepts and/or frameworks that are relevant for medical education with practical examples built in to help see the application in context, and links to key references. Will be valuable for the Foundations unit but for your educator career beyond this course.
  • You don’t need to read all of these and be familiar with all theories, but it will be a key resource for your activities in this unit
  • See the following links for a more organized presentation of the content for Volumes 1-3 (Volumes 4-5 not yet available in this format)

Optional Readings & Resources

The remainder of the readings/resources below are optional and serve as a small reference list for common areas in medical education where there is a discussion of theory or conceptual frameworks that support the work presented in the article.  The articles below are listed because they have led the way as good examples in that area.  The list is not exhaustive.  The theories and concepts provided in the ICE blog resource above will provide many more great examples.   **Note:  More and more, Med Ed journals are looking for authors to provide a discussion of theoretical underpinnings to support their work, so you might find that in your more current searches, that a discussion of theory is present. 

Online resources

 Education theories, principles, and concepts

 Learning and Adult learning principles

 Development of expertise, competence

Competency-based education

 Problem/Team-based learning

 Workplace learning

 Interprofessional education

 Community of practice

 Societal responsiveness

Reflective practice

Schon DA. Educating the reflective practitioner: toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 1987. (borrow it from the Faculty Development Library by contacting
You can also check-out hard copies of resources the USask Faculty Development Library has available.  Visit them here.  For more information or to request a book, please contact
We do our best to keep our reading lists up to date, however some articles may not always be relevant or accessible without permissions.  If you find an article that is unavailable, please let your supervisor know.  Please also let your supervisor know if you have suggestions for other resources.