Gloria Barilla is looking forward to helping first year medical students understand medicine from the perspective of a patient.

Gloria Barilla

“I think working with first year medical students is the place to start,” says Barilla. “From the bottom and with the young people who are so excited about their future and what they can bring to the health-care system.” Barilla is a patient and a member of the new Patient and Family Care Experience Program. The program launched last week.

The program pairs 16 first year medical students with people who are or have been patients or families of patients in Saskatoon Health Region. It aims to embed a strong understanding of patient and family centred care in the future generation of physicians. The participants will meet over the next six months to discuss the experiences of the patients and families.

Malori Keller, program lead explains that the patients and families will coach the students as to what they can do as a physician to treat patients and families with respect and dignity.

The teams will also discuss how to share information and to build relationships to encourage participation and collaboration of patients and families in the management of their health care and the health-care system.

With the vision and leadership of Dr. Marcel Deon and Dr. Krista Baerg the program was developed as a partnership between the University of Saskatchewan, the College of Medicine and Saskatoon Health Region. In 2010-2011, the program focused in pediatrics and hosted nine students and eight families. The goal is to have the program grow to provide more students with this opportunity.

Barilla is excited to have some input as a patient. “I know there is a lot of work to be done with the young students, patients and health care, but I truly believe we can affect the future through this program.”