The Learner Education Handover Project

By Leslie Nickell

Leslie Nickell

The transition from medical student to resident physician has been widely acknowledged to present with increased vulnerability and challenge. One contributing factor to these challenges is the limited communication between undergraduate medical education (UGME) programs and postgraduate medical education (PGME) programs, related to individual learner needs.

This lack of communication can contribute to delayed identification of learner needs and sub-optimal trainee performance in their residency program. Issues of confidentiality and increased stressors in obtaining a residency position have contributed to this paucity of information sharing between UGME and PGME programs.

The Learner Education Handover (LEH) Project arose from FMEC PG Recommendation #5 and is now supported by the AFMC. The project aims to develop a national protocol enabling communication between UGME and PGME, post-match, supporting the interests of the learner’s educational experience and the program’s capacity to provide effective, safe patient care while maintaining educational standards.

A scoping review of the literature and scan with relevant stakeholder networks was completed. Focus groups were conducted with 60 representatives of key stakeholder groups across Canada, including PGME, Student Affairs and UGME Deans, residents, medical students, and regulatory authorities, exploring the relevance, benefits, risks and feasibility of a handover process.

Focus group results were used to create the LEH protocol. The emphasis is on identifying what is needed to support optimal learner function in residency and providing recommendations to residency programs for areas of focus during their residency.

In 2017, the LEH protocol was beta-tested and evaluated by medical students, UGME programs and PGME programs at six Ontario medical schools and Laval University in Québec. Analysis of the beta test results is underway. The LEH protocol will be revised by the LEH committee, based on the beta test findings. The implementation of a national LEH protocol should improve the educational experience for both learners and educators, promoting a smoother transition into residency.