At the Université de Montréal (UdeM), patients have been involved as true partners in the education of health care students and in practice transformation initiatives in University-affiliated clinical settings since 2010. This strong commitment to patient involvement is carried out through several offices and groups within the university.

Program Formation and Structure

The Office of Collaboration and Patient Partnership (DCPP), within the Faculty of Medicine, was created in 2010 and is co-directed by a patient and a physician. At DCPP, patients are involved in the organizational structure and contribute to different projects in health professions training, in collaborative practice optimization initiatives and in research. The DCPP collaborated with the interfaculty operational committee (CIO-UM) managing the Interprofessional Education Curriculum to transform the existing IPE curriculum by integrating patients as co-educators. To recognize more formally the importance of patients in the IPE curriculum, a CIO-UM position of Patient VP was added in June 2015 to the existing Program VP position held by a professor from one of the health sciences programs.

The Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP) was created in May 2016 as a collaboration between the Faculty of Medicine and the research center of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). Building on the work of DCPP and the Canada Research Chair in Patient and Public Partnership (CRCHUM), the new Centre’s mission is: To advance the science and practices of patient and public partnership to transform health. The Centre will contribute to studies on involving patients in education and will develop collaborations with other universities.


The University’s IPE curriculum was created in 2008 and promoted a patient-centered care approach, which gradually evolved to a full-fledged partnership approach. In fall 2011, a pilot project was conducted to integrate patients-as-trainers in the IPE program. The goals were to:

  1. Help students better understand patient experiences and the concept of partnership in health care and;
  2. Model collaboration and partnership.

Fourteen patient educators participated in the trial and shared their experiences of living with chronic disease with over 300 third-year students. Feedback from both students and faculty was very positive. Based on the success of the trial project, patient educators’ involvement was expanded to include first and second year IPE courses. Patient educators were gradually integrated in the IPE curriculum from 2011 to 2013. Since 2014, over 1500 students from 13 different health sciences participate in three IPE workshops during their prelicensure training.

The IPE curriculum builds collaborative competencies using a three-stage process. It ensures that interprofessional learners have the opportunity to participate in small, interactive discussions co-facilitated by a patient and a health professional. Optional activities such as patient mentorships are also offered to highly motivated students on a voluntary basis to enrich the mandatory curriculum.

Over time, the IPE program has developed a competencies framework for collaborative practice and patient partnership in health care and social service. The final French version was launched in October 2016 (available upon request) and will, eventually, be translated into English. The framework is now the core of the IPE curriculum, including new online modules.

Patient/Family Educators

In the UdeM IPE program, patient/family educators are involved in all four elements:

  1. Co-design and planning of curriculum

    A patient joined the interfaculty planning committee in 2010. This person participates in IPE educators’ regular meetings and is involved in decision making regarding the orientation and structure of the IPE curriculum.
  2. Development of curriculum

    Since 2012, five patients have been involved in developing and revising the IPE curriculum.
  3. Delivery of curriculum

    Patients co-facilitate IPE workshops in each of the three courses taken by students from all 13 health sciences and psychosocial sciences programs at UdeM. Now, 300 trained patients and family caregivers are involved either as co-facilitators or mentors for students or as resource patients in process improvement initiatives in clinics or health organizations.
  4. Evaluation of effectiveness of education

    Course evaluation has shown high student satisfaction (over 90%) with patients’ contributions to courses. The next step will be to formally evaluate the impact of the curriculum and of the co-education model with patients on competency development.

    I really appreciated the patient’s testimony. This is a concrete way to improve the health care system. (Nursing student)

Advice to Other Institutions

Based on the success of the UdeM program, the director/coordinator offers the following advice to other institutions planning to begin an IPE program involving patients/families as educators:

  • Create partnerships with the major health sciences and psychosocial sciences faculties at your institution.
  • Develop a solid governance structure co-managed by educators and patients supporting the involvement of patients in educational activities. Obtain clear support from the faculties’ deans and from the University’s leadership.
  • Approach this transformation to patients as educators as cultural change.
  • Involve patients in all steps of the curriculum, including co-design of course content and co-facilitation of workshops.
  • Recruit and train patients systematically. Clarify their roles but also the roles of faculty who will co-facilitate educational activities with patients.

Guides and other tools have been developed by the UdeM program, including:

  • Joint Competencies framework for healthcare providers and patients
  • Guide to recruiting patient partners
  • Practical toolbox to support collaborative practice and partnership with patients and families in the clinical setting

Currently, these tools are available only in French. Some will, eventually, be translated into English.