Adult Gastroenterology Training Program

Health Advocate

CANMEDs Physician Competency Framework

Definition
As Health Advocates, physicians responsibly use their expertise and influence to advance the health and well-being of individual patients, communities, and populations.

Description
Physicians recognize their duty and ability to improve the overall health of their patients and the society they serve. Doctors identify advocacy activities as important for the individual patient, for populations of patients and for communities. Individual patients need physicians to assist them in navigating the healthcare system and accessing the appropriate health resources in a timely manner.  Communities and societies need physicians’ special expertise to identify and collaboratively address broad health issues and the determinants of health. At this level, health advocacy involves efforts to change specific practices or policies on behalf of those served.  Framed in this multi-level way, health advocacy is an essential and fundamental component of health promotion.  Health advocacy is appropriately expressed both by individual and collective actions of physicians in influencing public health and policy.

Key Competencies   Physicians are able to…

  1. Respond to individual patient health needs and issues as part of patient care;
  2. Respond to the health needs of the communities that they serve;
  3. Identify the determinants of health of the populations that they serve;
  4. Promote the health of individual patients, communities and populations.

Enabling Competencies    Physicians are able to...

  1. Respond to individual patient health needs and issues as part of patient care
    1. Identify the health needs of an individual patient
    2. Identify opportunities for advocacy, health promotion and disease prevention with individuals to whom they provide care
  2. Respond to the health needs of the communities that they serve
    1. Describe the practice communities that they serve
    2. Identify opportunities for advocacy, health promotion and disease prevention in the communities that they serve, and respond appropriately
    3. Appreciate the possibility of competing interests between the communities served and other populations
  3. Identify the determinants of health for the populations that they serve
    1. Identify the determinants of health of the populations, including barriers to access to care and resources
    2. Identify vulnerable or marginalized populations within those served and respond appropriately
  4. Promote the health of individual patients, communities, and populations
    1. Describe an approach to implementing a change in a determinant of health of the populations they serve
    2. Describe how public policy impacts on the health of the populations served
    3. Identify points of influence in the healthcare system and its structure
    4. Describe the ethical and professional issues inherent in health advocacy, including altruism, social justice, autonomy, integrity and idealism
    5. Appreciate the possibility of conflict inherent in their role as a health advocate for a patient or community with that of manager or gatekeeper
    6. Describe the role of the medical profession in advocating collectively for health and patient safety