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Developing a curriculum framework for global health in family medicine: emerging principles, competencies, and educational approaches

Lynda Redwood-Campbell1*, Barry Pakes2, Katherine Rouleau3, Colla J MacDonald4, Neil Arya5, Eva Purkey6, Karen Schultz6, Reena Dhatt7, Briana Wilson8, Abdullahel Hadi9 and Kevin Pottie10

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, 175 Longwood Road South, Hamilton, L8S 1A4 Canada

2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, 155 College Street, Health Science Building, 6th floor, Toronto, M5T 3M7 Canada

3 Department of Family Medicine, St. Michael's University of Toronto, 30 Bond Street, Toronto, M5B 1W8 Canada

4 Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Lamoureux Hall (LMX), 145 Jean-Jacques- Lussier Private, Ottawa, K1N 6N5 Canada

5 Office of Global Health, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, 1151 Richmond Street. The University of Western Ontario, London, N6A 5C1 Canada

6 Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, K7L 5E9 Canada

7 Department of Family Medicine, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, 1813 Lasalle Boulevard Sudbury, P3A 2A3 Canada

8 Independent member, 128 Emerald Street S, Hamilton, L8N 2a5, Canada

9 Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, 1 Stewart Street, Ottawa, K1N 6N5 Canada

10 Institute of Population Health, Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa, 1 Stewart Street, Ottawa, K1N 6N5 Canada

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BMC Medical Education 2011, 11:46  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-46

Published: 22 July 2011



Recognizing the growing demand from medical students and residents for more comprehensive global health training, and the paucity of explicit curricula on such issues, global health and curriculum experts from the six Ontario Family Medicine Residency Programs worked together to design a framework for global health curricula in family medicine training programs.


A working group comprised of global health educators from Ontario's six medical schools conducted a scoping review of global health curricula, competencies, and pedagogical approaches. The working group then hosted a full day meeting, inviting experts in education, clinical care, family medicine and public health, and developed a consensus process and draft framework to design global health curricula. Through a series of weekly teleconferences over the next six months, the framework was revised and used to guide the identification of enabling global health competencies (behaviours, skills and attitudes) for Canadian Family Medicine training.


The main outcome was an evidence-informed interactive framework webcite to provide a shared foundation to guide the design, delivery and evaluation of global health education programs for Ontario's family medicine residency programs. The curriculum framework blended a definition and mission for global health training, core values and principles, global health competencies aligning with the Canadian Medical Education Directives for Specialists (CanMEDS) competencies, and key learning approaches. The framework guided the development of subsequent enabling competencies.


The shared curriculum framework can support the design, delivery and evaluation of global health curriculum in Canada and around the world, lay the foundation for research and development, provide consistency across programmes, and support the creation of learning and evaluation tools to align with the framework. The process used to develop this framework can be applied to other aspects of residency curriculum development.