The Integrating Role

CanMEDs is a framework designed by the Royal College to improve patient care by characterizing the competencies you’ll need into seven distinct roles. These roles have become the bedrock of medical education in Canada. They are the roles you’ll be developing and evaluated on throughout your medical school training and residency. They are also attributes medical schools look for in accepting applicants. Here’s a quick intro on what these roles are.

Have you integrated and applied large amounts of data, plus different perspectives, to solve a difficult problem? That’s what a medical expert does. They must master the anatomy, the physiology, the clinical skills, the current standards of care and best available evidence. But that alone is not enough. They must also integrate it all with the other six roles, including professional values and patient preferences, to deliver quality healthcare. This is the central role and draws on all the others.


Communicating Complex Ideas

Have you needed to communicate complex ideas simply and clearly? As communicators, physicians must actively listen to their patients and tailor their communications accordingly. In a healthcare system based on patient-centered care, physicians need to ensure informed consent. They need to describe recommendations, alternatives, risk and benefits. They don’t dictate to their patients, but communicate with them to build relationships and help create a plan consistent with their patient’s preferences.

Improve Patient Care

CanMEDs Roles

Collaborator: Have you worked in a team to accomplish a common goal? Good medicine is a team sport. Doctors work with nurses, pharmacists, OTs, PTs, and other healthcare providers. They also collaborate with patients and their families, administrative staff and other stakeholders. It’s incumbent that doctors are able to establish trust and respect with the people they collaborate with, as well as able to work effectively in teams to identify and pursue common goals.

Leader: Have you ever been a leader? As a physician, you will be. Leadership is tough to define. While it can involve directing a team, in medicine it also includes helping drive progress and setting a vision for improved quality of healthcare. It also means helping manage the healthcare system and taking responsibility for its optimal delivery.

Health Advocate: Have you devoted yourself to support a cause or to change a particular policy? Physicians must serve the public. It is their duty to apply their knowledge and skills to advocate on behalf of their individual patients, as well as work towards improved health within their communities. This can take the form of helping a patient navigate the healthcare system or engaging with policy makers to improve public health measures.

Canmeds Roles Preparation

Becoming A Competent Physician

Scholar: Have you shown dedication to learning and to the advancement of knowledge? Medicine is constantly advancing. Physicians play a vital role in this continuous development by expanding current knowledge through research or evaluating evidence. This is a great thing, but it also means that physicians must be committed to lifelong learning to keep up, as well as participate in passing along acquired knowledge to future generations.

Professional: Have you served a role where being professional was critical? Physicians serve a critical role in society and to perform it effectively they require the public’s trust. In order to establish this, physicians and the broader society are bound in an implicit social contract. At the basis of this agreement is the duty for doctors to be professionals. This includes a responsibility to be knowledgeable, ethical, and committed to the public good, high standards, as well as ongoing professional development. It is the duty of all physicians to cultivate this bond through professional conduct.

While the abovementioned CanMEDs roles are the basis of what makes a competent physician, I hope it is clear that they are also transferrable to everyday life. When preparing your med school application start thinking about how you exemplify these roles and how you can develop them further. It’ll make you a stronger applicant and also put you well on your way to becoming a great physician!

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