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Doctor consoling a young girl with opioids problem

AFMC Response to the Canadian Opioid Crisis

AFMC is responding to the surge of overdoses and opioid-related deaths in Canada by leading the creation of a Canada-wide, competency– based curricula for future physicians in pain management and addiction medicine. With support from Health Canada through it’s Substance Use and Addictions Program, AFMC will receive approximately $1.99 million over three years (November 2018 to February 2021) to develop a curriculum consisting of bilingual online courses that are based on established competencies for student physicians that address gaps in current educational offerings. The online courses will be integrated into existing Canadian undergraduate medical education and freely available to all 17 Canadian medical schools and any other interested group. The project will also see to the development of a bank of MCQs and OSCEs for use on the national licensing exam of the Medical Council of Canada.

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Project Timeline

Diagram showing AFMC Opioids project planning development and implemetation

Project Milestones


AFMC reviewed the accreditation standards for undergraduate medical education (UGME) and held three expert panel meetings to review the curricula and teaching currently being provided in at UGME, postgraduate medical education (PGME) and continuing professional development (CPD) levels. In order to better identify the gaps in the offerings, AFMC conducted two Environmental Scans (E-Scans) which focused on compiling a comprehensive list of courses and programs on pain medicine, substance use and addictions.


The first environmental scan was completed in 2018 and primarily looked at UGME, PGME, and CPD courses and programs from the 17 Canadian medical schools – (Read the 2018 E-Scan report here). The second scan was completed in 2019 in collaboration with consultant’s Cohaesio Inc. and expanded upon the 2018 findings and included both national and international content and curricula from academic sites, public organizations and published literature – (Read the 2019 E-Scan report here). Queen’s University undertook additional analysis of UGME, nursing and pharmacy curricula across Canada to further synthesize these findings.


The Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Professional Development & Educational Scholarship at Queen’s University was selected via RFP bidding process in early 2019 as the project’s Curriculum & eLearning Development team and Curriculum Evaluation team. Using their proprietary Learning Management System (LMS) the Elentra Platform, the curriculum development team made up of educational developers, medical illustrators, instructional designers, eLearning technicians, videographers and graphic designers will work with Subject Matter Experts to bring the content of the curriculum to life.


The curriculum will be developed using a spiral curriculum structure which will have core topics revisited as the modules progress with increasing complexity and sophistication and will be mapped to the Royal College’s CanMEDS framework, and competencies and objectives agreed upon by experts from each medical school. The modules will be developed as SCORM compliant and will be easily integrated into all medical school’s learning management systems.


The AFMC Response to Opioid Crisis project has engaged Cathexis Consulting Inc. to support the evaluation of project progress and adhere to Health Canada’s progress reporting scheduling. Cathexis established a performance measurement and evaluation plan which included the development of a logic model to set sustainability goals, create specific program objectives for operational and financial sustainability, and identified measures to track progress and outcomes. At the end of the project, Cathexis Consulting will produce annual report which identifies indications on the impact of the new curriculum on health systems.


New modules will be tested in a variety of contexts (i.e., academic, clinical, gender and sex specific and cultural) before finalization and will feed into the evaluation of the project and curriculum. Pilot testing will occur at a selection of medical schools, foundational residency programs and in selected CPD settings.


The launch will include face to face meetings, teleconferences, web site, social media, electronic and web distribution of products, presentations at meetings and conferences, sharing of the findings in the committee structure of AFMC and other stakeholders.


Dr. Lisa Graves, Project Lead

Fran Kirby, Project Manager

Adriana Cull, Project Assistant

The AFMC Response to Opioid Crisis project has established 3 working committees:


Provides high level input into the overall progress and outcomes of the project.


Provides content consultation and advice into the curriculum; Develops a plan of integration into the UGME programs of their respective organizations/university.


Provides advice towards the implementation of the curriculum.

In addition to these committees, the Medical Council of Canada has established the MCQ Assessment Development Committee and OSCE Assessment Development Committee which will be responsible for developing a bank of MCQ’s and OSCE’s relevant to the curriculum for randomized inclusion on the MCC Qualifying Examinations I & II.

Project Governance Structure

Diagram showing opioid project governance structure

The Key Stakeholders

Canadian Medical schools logo

Canadian Medical Schools

Health canada logo

Health Canada

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General Public

AFMC logo


Medican Council of Canada logo

Medical Council of Canada