Undergraduate Education

Medical School

Our Division has a substantial presence in the new undergraduate curriculum of our medical school at the University of Ottawa. This is a bilingual program offering a French stream and an English stream. In April 2010, under the leadership of Drs. Pippa Hall and Shirley Bush, we revised the palliative care content of the new curriculum and now have one of the largest undergraduate palliative care programs nationally and internationally. Medical students receive over 40 hours of obligatory Palliative Care education spread across all four years of the undergraduate curriculum; preclinical (Years 1 and 2) and clinical (Years 3 and 4). The Palliative Care curriculum uses a variety of learning methods that include case-based learning (CBL), lectures, debates, the humanities (movies, art and literature), reflective exercises, online modules for distributed self-learning in support of CBL, and experiential learning opportunities through clinical Electives and Selectives.  All Division members participate in presenting and facilitating the various sessions, alongside colleagues from other professions (interprofessional teaching) such as nursing, chaplaincy, social work, and psychology.

In Year 1, students are introduced through workshops to the concept of Palliative Care, particularly as a holistic and interprofessional approach to caring.  In addition, during the Cancer Care block, we provide a workshop on pain and symptom management, ethics and end-of-life care. Students can also do a 12-hour elective in Palliative Care if they so choose. Most of the curriculum is covered at the end of Year 2 during the Integration Block. This is a full week of courses that include communication and decision-making at the end of life, palliative care earlier in the illness trajectory, symptom management, ethical issues and psychosocial and spiritual care, as well as a framework for clinical ethical decision-making. We also provide learning on pain management as part of the Acute and Chronic Pain block in Year 2. In Year 3, Palliative Care is one of the mandatory selectives for students; however, each student receives a compulsory one-hour workshop in Palliative Care. There is also a refresher course focusing on clinical care within the Internal Medicine Block. The clinical electives occur in Year 4.

The clinical electives range from a few days to up to a month, depending on the student’s needs. These occur at the Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital Palliative Care Unit or/and the Palliative Care Consultation team at the Civic Campus of The Ottawa Hospital. Please contact our Residency Office at 613-562 6262 Ext 4007 to discuss doing an elective or selective. Also register your request with the Undergraduate Office at the Medical School.

Importantly, palliative care content is included in the examinations at the medical school and students also self-assess (and reflect on) their attitudes to caring for the dying using validated instruments as part of the evaluation framework of the palliative care curriculum.

Palliative Care Electives and Selectives (Clinical rotations)

If you are a medical student and wish to complete and elective or selective (from 5 to 3o days), please refer to the elective instructions section at Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa and contact the Palliative Care Medicine Residency Program Administrator regarding availability.

Sarah Marsaw, Program Administrator

Palliative Medicine Residency Program

Bruyère Continuing Care, Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital

43 Bruyère Street, Room 284-J

Ottawa, ON   K1N 5C8

613-562-6262, extension 4007



Several Division members participate as coaches in the Undergraduate Program’s ePortfolio. The innovative ePortfolio was developed by the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine to enhance the reflective practice of medical students in the revised medical undergraduate curriculum. It is a mandatory and evaluated component of the University of Ottawa’s undergraduate medical education curriculum. It is structured around the physician roles identified in the curriculum’s objectives, based on the CanMEDS model: Clinician, Communicator, Collaborator, Manager, Health Advocate, Scholar, Professional, and Person.

Using scheduled meetings and the ePortfolio website, students under the guidance of their coach, are asked to reflect on their activities and personal development in areas of learning that lie beyond the core focus of basic science knowledge and clinical skills.  The goals of the ePortoflio are to provide a forum for reflection on all roles of the physician and to provide another assessment vehicle to achieve the curriculum’s objectives for roles other than Clinician. The Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa offers more information on the ePortfolio program.


Other Undergraduate Education

Death Made Visible Course

Our Division, under the leadership of Dr. Pippa Hall, has collaborated with several departments in the social sciences to deliver a non-obligatory interprofessional course called “Death Made Visible” (HSS 4100). This course examines concepts of suffering, issues relevant to death and to the care of the dying as reflected in works of literature. It explores different professional perspectives of these concepts and issues, and relates them to socio-economic, political and cultural factors.  It provides a forum for studying professionalism, professional ethics and professional culture in seminar format. This course is offered to Year 1 and 2 medical students, nursing students, spiritual care students and health sciences students.

Course faculty:  Pam Grassau, PhD (Can), MSW, Pippa Hall, MD CCFP MEd FCFP, Patrick Marshall, MA, Mary Ann Murray, RN MScN PhD CON(C) GNC(C) CHPCN(C)

For more information, contact Pam Grassau at pgrassau@bruyere.org or Dr. Pippa Hall at phall@bruyere.org

Palliative Care Clinical Perspectives Course

This second elective course is being developed and will be offered to all medical students in the Faculty of Medicine in collaboration with the School of Nursing.

Undergraduate Curriculum

Compulsory Learning Activities: