From Surviving to Advising: A Novel Course Pairing Mental Health and Addictions Service Users as Advisors to Senior Psychiatry Residents
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The authors describe a novel course that pairs service users as advisors to senior psychiatry residents with the goals of improving the residents’ understanding of recovery, reducing negative stereotypes about people in recovery, and empowering the service users who participated.
Service users who had experience working as peer support workers and/or system advocates were selected for a broad and deep understanding of recovery and an ability to engage learners in constructive dialogue. They met monthly with resident advisees over a period of 6 months. They were supported with monthly group supervision meetings and were paid an honorarium. Quantitative evaluations and qualitative feedback from the first two cohorts of the course, comprising 34 pairs, are reported here.
The first cohort of residents responded with a wide range of global ratings and reactions. In response to their suggestions, changes were made to the structure of the course to create opportunities for small group learning and reflective writing and to protect time for residents to participate. The second cohort of residents and both cohorts of service users gave acceptably high global ratings. Residents in the second cohort described gaining a number of benefits from the course, including an enhanced understanding of the lived experience of recovery and a greater sense of shared humanity with service users. Advisors described an appreciation for being part of something that has the potential for changing the practice of psychiatry and enhancing the lives of their peers.
Positioning service users as advisors to psychiatry residents holds promise as a powerful way of reducing distance between future psychiatrists and service users and facilitating system reform toward person-centered recovery-oriented care.
KeywordsPsychiatry/education Patient participation Mentors Physician-patient relations Patient-centered Care Education/medical/graduate
The authors would like to thank Michael-Jane Levitan for her assistance with data collection. This work was supported by a Phoenix Call to Caring grant from Associated Medical Services Inc.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
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