I. Introduction

The OHTN’s pre-clerkship HIV elective program provides Ontario’s medical students with additional exposure to HIV issues, increasing their awareness of HIV management, both from the perspective of the clinician as well as persons living with HIV. This program is led and organized by students, with ample support from the OHTN. We help the participating students with organizing guest lectures and observerships at HIV clinics and other specialized sites, and contacting mentors living with HIV. Participation in the OHTN’s pre-clerkship HIV elective program is voluntary, based on students’ personal and professional goals. There is no limit to the number of students that can be enrolled in the course.

II. Leadership

At least one faculty member from the medical school has to agree to undertake the responsibility of overseeing the activities of the program. Once this person is in place, he/she acts as a sounding board and guide for the planning team, which is a team of participating students. The planning team is responsible for organizing program content/activities for each academic year in collaboration with the faculty advisor.

III. Activities

They include the history of HIV; HIV-related stigma; public health policies and the legislative framework; HIV-related issues in specialized populations including Aboriginal populations, men who have sex with men (MSM), lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer (LGBTQ) issues in HIV, and street-involved populations. Lectures also provide opportunities for the students to understand the disproportionate impact of HIV on local, national and international settings and populations.
Observerships take place in clinical settings such as community health centres, community and hospital based HIV outpatient clinic settings. The focus is on gaining knowledge about the medical care of HIV in different institutional settings. Following the experience, students have the chance to debrief with the physicians as well as in small group settings with each other.
This experience enables the medical students to patient advocacy skills. Emerging healthcare professionals gain insight into the complexities of living with HIV, information on AIDS Service Organizations (ASOs) in local areas and information on how to dialogue with, support and care for people living with HIV.
This provides medical students with the opportunity to learn about different screening tools such as the policies and procedures rapid finger-prick test, its sensitivity and specificity; pre-test and post-test HIV counselling, attend workshops and discussions on topics such as harm reduction and safe inhalation as well as see the daily routine when clients seek care in these settings.
These are delivered by the OHTN Education and Training Unit in collaboration with healthcare professionals, ASOs and community centres in Ontario. The goal is to offer new knowledge in emerging areas of healthcare for people living with HIV (e.g., Pre-exposure prophylaxis and HIV care cascade). These one-hour synchronous interactive sessions are facilitated by a guest speaker(s). In 2016-17, we plan to hold 4 online seminars concerning various topics. Medical students participating in the OHTN’s Pre-clerkship HIV elective program are expected to attend.

IV. OHTN Supports medical students!

The OHTN provides financial, adult education and media tools support for participating students. The financial support covers items such as incidental expenses, light meals or snacks for a lecture, dinner/refreshment and transportation expenses and honoraria for mentors living with HIV. All receipts must be submitted to the OHTN training and education program coordinator.
The designated OHTN liaison supports the team with administrative work that may include event design and implementation, contacting speakers, etc.

V. Expectations & Evaluation

All activities must be implemented during the academic year. Students are encouraged to seek their pre-clerkship HIV elective program faculty member’s guidance in getting their hours of observing physicians in the clinical setting as elective hours and their non-clinical events as Medical Students Performance credits. This serves as an incentive to generate interest among the student body so larger numbers participate in the program.
The group is required to submit a brief 2 to 3 page report reflecting on learning goals and objectives, and one video testimonial [hyperlink to pertinent webpage]

VI. How to Apply

Prepare a short (3-4 page) proposal that includes:

  • Learning goals and objectives
  • A summary of events, activities and lectures that your school’s elective program will organize throughout the year
  • An itemized budget to request OHTN funding (up to $5000)
  • A clear plan of how people living with and/or affected by HIV in your community will contribute to your program’s educational activities

Send your proposal to the Director of Education & Training (Director-EDUC@ohtn.on.ca). For more info, please call 416-642-6486 x 2240.