Phoenix Fellows and Grantees

Cynthia R. Whitehead

2012 AMS Phoenix Fellow
Co-sponsor Organization
Research Theme

The Caring Doctor: Understanding the Discourses and Advancing the Practices of Compassionate Care in Family Medicine

All healthcare professionals aspire to teach and practise compassionate, person-centred care; however, creating structures to sustain and support this goal is not simple. Formal accreditation and curricular standards powerfully influence what is valued and taught. A first step is to examine the discourses of compassionate care in formal documents. The focus of this Fellowship was to examine the discourses of compassionate care in formal accreditation standards so as to use them to embed the values of compassionate care in the University of Toronto family medicine teaching and clinical settings. The project involved a critical discourse analysis of discourses of compassionate care in formal Canadian family medicine postgraduate training documents. Ensuring alignment of accreditation standards with core values is an essential component in developing a cohesive programmatic approach that embeds the values of caring in Family Medicine educational programs.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Engaging colleagues across health disciplines both provincially and nationally around the complex issue of how best to ensure that formal standards do not under-emphasize complex social constructs and values such as compassionate care.
  • Disseminating findings at relevant conferences, meetings and invited presentations.

Actual Outcome:

  • A surprising absence of language about compassionate care was identified in current Family
    Medicine standards.