Phoenix Fellows and Grantees

Dr. Mark Hanson

2016 Phoenix Project Fellow
Co-sponsor Organization
Hospital for Sick Children

Patient Engagement in Health Professions Admission Processes

Currently, applicants to health professions education programs submit academic and non-academic application materials and may undergo admission interviews. These applications are adjudicated by assessors including faculty, trainees, community members and in some instances patients with schools constituting admission committees for the governance of these processes.1 These processes target attributes relevant to compassionate care; but they are grounded in institutional voices and priorities of health professions institutions, not the broad range of patients and families those institutions serve.

I believe the next transformative innovation for health professions admission processes is to engage in the ‘science of patient input’2 and bring deep engagement of patients and families into these admission processes for the health professions. While some medical schools do indeed engage patients and/or community members in admission processes to meet social accountability3 and community involvement1 mandates, what I propose here is something quite different: namely, the need for health professions admission processes to solicit and reflect patient defined application attributes, processes and policies, which may be wholly distinct from those currently defined by health professions institutions.

This represents a transformative innovation for health professions admission processes as it will recast patient engagement at the admissions gateway from merely its current consultative role to the institution to a deeply constitutive aspect of admission processes that are co-developed with patients. Transformative innovation of this magnitude will radically democratize admission processes 4 as patient engagement will “go beyond courtesy” and “become policy”. New definitions co-developed with patients as regards compassionate care and ‘best of the best’ applicants plus new admissions processes, governance and accreditation standards will effect this change.



1.      Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools. (2014). CACMS Data Collection Instrument. Retrieved from.

2.      Anderson M & McCleary KK. On the path to a science of patient input. Science Translational Medicine. 2016; 8(336):336ps11.

3.      Strasser RP et al. Canada’s new medical school: The Northern Ontario School of Medicine: social accountability through distributed community engaged    learning. Academic Medicine. 2009; 84(10):1459-1464.

4.      Bleakley A. Social comparison, peer learning and democracy in medical education. Medical Teacher. 2010; 32(11):878-879.