Purpose: To examine the views of faculty and residents about teaching and evaluating health advocacy, one of the more difficult CanMEDS roles to integrate into postgraduate medical education.
Method: In 2002, two focus groups of faculty and two of residents at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, were asked standardized questions to elicit their answers to what was a health care advocate as understood and reported by teachers and residents, and what were the reported barriers and enhancers to teaching and evaluating the role of residents as health care advocates.
Results: The study found that faculty and residents knew little about how to teach and evaluate the role of the health advocate. There was consensus between the two types of groups with congruity between residents and faculty about the key issues. The one exception to this was the disconnect between the faculty members’ belief that advocacy was an aspect of their daily work and the residents’ apparent lack of awareness of this. The majority of participants were not familiar with the Royal College's description of the role of health advocate and were very keen to receive further guidance on teaching tools and methods of evaluation.
Conclusion: The authors’ hypothesis was that little is known about how to teach and evaluate the role of the health advocate. The results confirmed this and identified important areas upon which to build an educational framework. The definition of the health advocate and the expectations require clarity and direction. Academic programs would benefit from clear objectives.