Patient & Community Voices Workshop Series


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Click here for upcoming Patient & Community Voices workshops.


In the Patient & Community Voices Workshops, patients and caregivers become educators and teach UBC health professional students what it is like to live with a chronic illness. During interprofessional workshops, students learn directly from patients, through their stories and from their expertise. The project provides safe opportunities for students to ask questions and talk with patients, and/or family members, outside of the formal health care setting.


The workshops were initially developed as part of the Patient & Community Voices for Health Professional Education (PCV) project. To learn more about the PCV project, please visit the project website at or click here to watch our video.


Overview of the Workshops



These community-led educational interventions are developed, evaluated and refined by students, community members, and UBC faculty, working together in a participatory educational design. Students help to shape their learning environment. The community has a voice in training their future health care providers. Faculty members learn how to engage the community to help students learn patient/client-centred care and skills for interprofessional practice.



There are seven regularly run workshops, including:




Positive Reflections and Voices Unheard: Learning from Persons Living with HIV.


The purpose of this workshop is to introduce students to the challenges of living with HIV through personal stories and reflections of community members living with this health concern. Students also receive information about support and advocacy resources available within Vancouver-based community organizations serving persons living with HIV. The workhop is led by community educators from the Positive Living Society of BC.




The Caregiver's Journey: Heartbreak and Love.


This workshop introduces students to the successes and challenges of being a family caregiver for a loved one with a chronic health condition. A panelist of caregivers from the community share their experiences of caregiving for a loved one. Through stories and small group discussions, students have the opportunity to learn with other students in different disciplines about the unique experience of working with family caregivers. 




Talk is Cheap: Living and Communicating with Aphasia.


This workshop provides students with the opportunity to learn more about what life is like living with aphasia - a communication disorder that results from brain injury, most commonly stroke. Experts with aphasia present information about their communication challenges and describe their experiences.




Personal Experiences with Epilepsy.


Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that is characterized by recurrent seizures. In this workshop, community educators from the BC Epilepsy Society share their lived experiences with this health concern, including impacts on lifestyle, employment, relationships and activity. Students also learn about some common approaches to management of epilepsy and identified health professional approaches to create positive interactions with clients who have this health concern.




Stereotypes, Truth and Moving towards Reconciliation: What health professional students need to know about First Nations history.


First Nations people are one of the fastest growing populations in Canada. Relationships between health care providers and First Nations' patients are complicated by cultural differences and enduring effects of colonization, such as residential schools. As health care providers students will have interactions with many First Nations and it is important to first have an understanding of their history and how this information can be used to help build trust and improve services to Aboriginal clients. This workshop provides students with the opportunity to hear from survivors of the residential school system, break down professional and personal stereotypes, speak with students from other health professional programs, and participate in a holistic learning experience. There is also an opportunity to reflect on the role of health care providers in the reconciliation process.




How to Work with Interpreters.


Healthcare Interpreting is a professional skill. Healthcare interpreters are bilingual, trained in medical terminology and perform under a strict code of professional ethics, which ensures their services to be impartial and confidential. In this workshop, a healthcare interpreter shares their experience to help participants' understand how to work with healthcare interpreters in multicultural clinical settings. Students learn from and with other students in different disciplines about how an interpreter fits in the health care team.



Living a Life of Recovery with Mental Illness.


Members of the Recovery Narrative Project share their varied life experiences both in and out of the community mental health system. Students will learn about mental illness and recovery, including the stigma of mental illness, how quality of life helps the journey of recovery, and the holistic care needed for mental and physical health. This workshop emphasises the shift in the mental health system (consumers, family, supporters, services providers) from a medical model of mental health and illness ('something is broken, try to fix it') to a recovery model (patient-centred, building upon the individual's strengths).




Other workshop topics have included, but are not limited to: stigma, peer-support, recovery, community resources, helpful aids, early diagnosis, health care challenges, communication and patient expertise. Our workshop activities focus on a cross section of individual stories, experiences and experiential learning emphasizing the human experience and patient-centred care.











We believe it is important for people with chronic conditions and other “expert patients” to be engaged in the education of health professional students. Involving “patients as educations” in health professional education is a long standing tradition, but patients are most often used as passive clinical material, props or audiovisual aids. A more active role for patients is now an important part of training health professionals for patient-centred, interprofessional practice.


Currently, most patient involvement in student learning occurs either in the classroom, with an occasional appearance by a guest speaker from the community, or in clinical settings, where learning from patients is complicated by competing needs to learn clinical skills and provide patient care. The Patient and Community Voices project vision is to facilitate a working environment to support full community engagement in health professional training.




Project History



Development of the Workshop Series (2008-2011):


With funding from the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF), the Patient and Community Voices Project (PCV) began in 2008. The first phase of the project focused on the development working relationships between the university and community organizations. We created pilot projects that could be used as models for patients and community members to enhance health professional education.


In our pilot interactive workshops, we successfully demonstrated the concept of patients as educators with three community groups who had little or no prior experience of being involved in the education of health professionals. Following the success of those workshops, we formed an Advisory Board comprised of community, students and faculty to guide the project and its outcomes.


Current Initiatives (2011 – present):


Following the completion of TLEF funding for the Patient & Community Voices Project, the Founding Advisory Board was dissolved in March 2011. The Patient & Community Partnership for Education (PCPE) continues to coordinate interprofessional workshops for UBC health and human service students led by community educators.'


Partners & Collaborators



UBC Faculty Partners: Angela Towle, Patient & Community Partnership for Education; Bill Godolphin, Patient & Community Partnership for Education; Lesley Bainbridge, College of Health Disciplines; Grant Charles, School of Social Work; Craig J. Phillips, School of Nursing; Lynda Eccott, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences; Wendy Hall, School of Nursing; Alison Greig, Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine; Michael Lee, Department of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine




Past UBC Student Partners: Jo-Ann Morrison, Social Work; Albert Chong, Pharmacy; David Chiu, Counselling Psychology; Sasha Bossley, Occupational Therapy; Andrea Harstone, Social Work




Reports & Publications





2012-2013 Annual Report


An External Report of Patient and Community Voices in Health Professional Education


2010-2011 Annual Report


2009-2010 Annual Report




Lin B: Turning Patients into Professors. UBC Reports. October 2010; 56(10):5


Jarvie A: Learning from our future patients. UBC Medical Journal. March 2010; 1(2):37


Towle A, et al: Active patient involvement in education of health professionals. Medical Education. 2010; 44: 64-74


McPhee D: Healthcare involves everybody: a fair to bridge patient, community and campus expertise. Scleroderma Association of BC Newsletter, Spring 2010 


Partnerships with community organizations for health professional education-evaluation of a demonstration project. Towle A, Creak S, Kline C, Godolphin W, Division of Health Care Communication, College of Health Disciplines, UBC. Abstract presented at Association of American Medical Colleges 2009 Conference on Research in Medical Education in Boston, MA. November 6-11, 2009 


Patients As Educators: a model for interprofessional workshops in the community, Angela Towle, William Godolphin, CPHPE Advisory Board: 2008-09. Poster presentation at the Association for Medical Education in Europe Conference, Málaga, Spain, 29 August - 2 September 2009 and during the Celebrate Learning Week, UBC, 26 October 2009


Shah S: The voice of the physician as patient and participant. International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice Oct 2009 (a community teacher writes about experiences of a workshop) 


Putting the people's voices into health professional education-a model of community engagement. Towle A, Godolphin W, Bainbridge L, MacDonald S, Bawlf B, Creak S, Kline C. Abstract presented at Collaborating Across Borders II: Building Bridges Between Interprofessional Education and Practice in Halifax, NS. May 20-22, 2009


Community partnerships for interprofessional education. Towle A, Creak S, Kline C, Godolphin W. Abstract presented at Canadian Conference on Medical Education: Diversity- Meeting Many Needs in Edmonton, AB. May 2-6, 2009


Community partnerships to build an Interprofessional education centre. Wendy Hall, Angela Towle, Stacey Creak and Bill Godolphin. Abstract presented at Region Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing Conference: Teaching from within-Supporting Nurse Educators for the Future in Calgary, AB. Feb. 19-21, 2009







Jen Macdonald, Research Coordinator 


Patient & Community Partnership for Education