In   on October 1, 2012

Touchstone Institute Annual Report 2011/2012


2011/2012's Message from the Executive Director and CEO:


It is a privilege to update you on the many developments that have taken place at CEHPEA in the past year. A deeply engrained part of our culture is a commitment to excellence in assessments and training and we continuously evaluate, refine and evolve our existing products and services, while branching out in new directions.

We continue to play leadership roles as part of the National Assessment Collaboration (NAC) Central Coordinating Committee. Much of the work performed by the NAC involves the development, review and testing of examination content for the national exam to assess readiness of physicians educated abroad for entry-level training – the NAC Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). CEHPEA’s Psychometrician Consultant, Arthur Rothman, EdD, has chaired the NAC OSCE Test Committee for the past two years. The NAC OSCE was formally launched in March 2011 and CEHPEA is the largest test site in the country, running four exams each year and assessing close to 600 candidates.

We also assess candidates’ appropriateness for advanced specialty training or practice ready assessment, offering clinical and written exams for seven specialties and surgical skills assessment for three of those specialties.

Although our original focus was on assessments for IMGs and Canadians educated abroad (CEAs), given our experience developing and running large-scale written and clinical examinations, we have increasingly been asked to apply our expertise to other areas. Last year, we partnered with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) to create a Quality Assurance Practice OSCE for nurse practitioners. The pilot took place in June 2011 and the first full assessment is slated for June 2012. The initiative was a new direction for us as the assessment did not involve internationally educated health professionals or licensing and was purely related to maintaining competence for Ontario’s nurse practitioners.

In another major new development last year, we have been working with the CNO to create and implement a new assessment process for internationally educated nurses (IENs) that want to write the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE). Approved and funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the new process will include rigorous written and clinical exams to ensure that standards for entry to practice are met, while at the same time reducing the backlog of applicants and increasing the number of qualified nurses in Ontario. A pilot study is scheduled for September 2012, and we expect to be able to assess up to 1250 IENs by the end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year - the scale of which is unprecedented in Canada.

A priority on the administration front last year has been building the infrastructure and capacity to support our expansion: hiring a director and two new managers and trainers to shore up our assessment operations; acquiring additional clinical examination rooms; and expanding our Standardized Patient Program to accommodate the high volumes of OSCEs that we will be running.

Our Educational Programs team conducted an extensive evaluation of the PreResidency Program (PRP) for family medicine and the Orientation to Training and Practice in Canada (OTPC) for specialists. Both programs were created to help internationally educated physicians transition to training and practice in Ontario. The review, which took into account feedback from the students and physician lecturers, revealed that in addition to changing student demographics and needs, the lecturers wanted to be more involved in creating and delivering the courses.

Based on that feedback, the sessions were re-designed so that physicians now lead the sessions, including the experiential learning component, and the skills check process. New tools and processes were created to improve the skills checks, new courses were added and new Academic Advisors were introduced to help candidates identify and achieve their learning goals. We were also pleased to appoint two Academic Consultants to provide input and guidance to the Director of Educational Programs.

Following the successful implementation of a hybrid delivery educational model for OTPC in 2011 (classroom, experiential and online learning) and in discussion with the Family Medicine Program Directors and IMG Coordinators, we launched a hybrid program for PRP in March 2012. The new model offers many benefits to participants, including more flexibility, earlier access to the materials and multiple opportunities to discuss content with peers and facilitators.

As we celebrate our accomplishments in 2011/12 we would like to acknowledge the governance provided by our Board of Directors, the passion and expertise of our partners, the funding and support from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the exceptional talent of our staff. Time and time again, they have been called upon to creatively address the needs of Ontario’s health care system – often delving into uncharted territory. They have consistently responded, delivered and excelled. It is gratifying to know that our team is helping to increase access to heath care while ensuring that the highest standards of care are met.

Fiscal Period




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