Giving back to the community of medicine through Royal College International
“The experience builds perspective,” says Marcia Clark, MD, FRCSC, reflecting on her previous international work with Royal College International (RCI) as a promoter and teacher of the CanMEDS Physician Competency Framework.
“Seeing how other countries work and operate in medical education, you have an appreciation for medicine, both for what we have in Canada and what other countries have or don’t have.”
Dr. Clark describes how the Kuwait Institute for Medical Specializations (KIMS) adopted CanMEDS as a tool to help improve their medical education system. During the process, it was important to understand that CanMEDS was originally developed in the Canadian context and needed to be adapted for the Kuwaiti context.
“Every time we went back, we could see the changes they [KIMS] were making,” she says. “CanMEDS was infusing through their system, and you could witness the work happening as they were training their trainers for long-term success focused on improved patient care.”
Giving back fosters professional and personal growth
An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Clark is also a clinical associate professor at the University of Calgary, vice-chair of the RCI Board of Directors and a member of the Royal College Council. She believes that RCI is integral to giving back to the community of medicine and expanding the Royal College brand globally.
“As a Fellow, you see the value and impact that the Royal College has outside Canada. The advocacy piece that we are involved in with RCI, when sharing our expertise with clients, is rewarding as it leads to better education, better doctors, and better patient care for all.”
In addition to giving back to the community, members also derive additional value through their involvement in RCI’s work.
“Working internationally also challenges your assumptions and biases on how health care should be delivered,” says Dr. Clark. “We are recognized as being experts, but how to translate our expertise in other cultural contexts, while clients make it their own, is interesting.”
“I see myself as a woman surgeon, as a guest in client countries also challenging their assumptions and biases about women and surgery,” she adds. “When advocating for women, both professionally and as patients, you grow personally.”
A sustainable, independent business
RCI, a non-profit, independent subsidiary of the Royal College, was created in 2010 in response to Fellows wishing to adopt, integrate and promote Royal College postgraduate medical education standards and lifelong learning in countries where they practise medicine or have long-standing relationships and connections.
Fast forward to today, over 350 Fellows, including Dr. Clark, work as contracted Fellows for RCI annually to share their expertise abroad through consulting services.
RCI does not use member dues to support its operations – instead, RCI’s business model ensures independence and sustainability. Revenue generated from consulting services covers operational costs such as Fellow contracts, staff, travel expenses and overhead.
“RCI’s approach is a cost-recovery business model that actually gives back to the Royal College and members,” explains Dr. Clark.
The net surplus remained is then allocated to
- Fellow-led International Development, Aid and Collaboration (IDAC) projects in developing countries;
- a contingency fund for unforeseen events or circumstances that could impact RCI’s business; and
- the Royal College to support the organization and member initiatives.
What’s next for RCI?
For Dr. Clark, one priority is IDAC, which presently funds 21 projects in 16 countries.
“Growing IDAC will be important because we have a responsibility from an advocacy and social perspective, as human beings, to make a difference in communities of need,” she says. “I look forward to the program growing and seeing how it impacts local communities in the short- and long-term.”
Dr. Clark is also curious to see how knowledge translation with clients will set them up for success from a lifelong learning and continuing professional development perspective.
Look out for more RCI content
With RCI’s growth comes new opportunities for the Royal College and members to engage internationally. Later this spring, we will highlight IDAC as part of the program’s next call for applications.
If you are interested in helping RCI give back to the community of medicine, contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related content: The importance of engaging internationally
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Royal College Communications