Vaccine clinic creates training opportunity
In the earliest days of the worldwide COVID-19 vaccine rollout, The Ottawa Hospital’s (TOH) Jerry Maniate, MD, M.Ed, FRCPC, FACP, recognized a unique training opportunity for residents: recruit volunteers to administer vaccines and leverage the crisis situation as a learning experience.
Dr. Maniate is vice president of Diversity, Inclusion & Education at TOH. In late 2020, the site was designated as one of two in Ontario to begin administering the COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to health care workers and essential caregivers at hospitals, long-term care (LTC) homes and retirement homes. Open seven days a week, the clinic can immunize up to 1,800 people per day.
“Educational opportunities for learners is my focus and I saw a chance to innovate,” said Dr. Maniate, a long-time education researcher who was a key contributor to the Royal College working group that revised the CanMEDS Physician Competency Framework in 2015.
While the fast-paced rollout of the vaccine clinic did not leave time for Dr. Maniate’s team to develop formal Entrustable Professional Activities for residents, he saw tremendous value in encouraging self-reflection as the key learning opportunity.
“In the early days of the vaccine clinic, I was learning the power of engaging the public, and of promoting a culture of questioning and reflecting,” he said. “I found there was much to be learned by hearing brief stories of care from LTC workers. What have their struggles been? How can these stories change our attitudes as physicians? What new appreciation can we gain?”
Dr. Maniate said he encouraged the volunteer residents to adopt a similar culture of self-reflection. “A lot of what we learn comes through the experience of stopping, pausing, reflecting, thinking and integrating what we identify into our future performance. So much of learning occurs in the day-to-day experience of interacting with people.”
Sheryl Hodgson, MD, an Internal Medicine resident at TOH, volunteered in the early days of the clinic and found the experience edifying. She said being in close contact with health care workers who might be more vulnerable than physicians due to their socioeconomic status enabled her to reflect on the complexities of working in LTC.
“If a worker at an LTC care facility gets sick, it can be difficult or impossible because of their life circumstances to take time off,” she said. “What came to mind was: what does that mean for your relationships with your co-workers and clients?”
Dr. Hodgson added that most volunteer residents did not imagine, when they went into medicine, that giving vaccinations would be an important part of their work. “It became clear that this was the most important thing we could do for our community,” she said. “You need to have the flexibility to do what’s most needed.”