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WCH and U of T’s OPEN online learning module receives international award

August 7, 2018

By Sarah Warr

Across Canada, many patients struggle to access mental health services in their communities, relying on their family physicians and community healthcare practitioners to address these complex issues. To address this gap, Women’s College Hospital (WCH) and the University of Toronto (U of T) teamed up to develop the Online Psychiatric Education Network (OPEN), an online education and training program.

This year, the team received the 2018 Literary Award for Best Paper in the Journal of Biocommunication at the Association of Medical Illustrators’ annual meeting. The award recognizes the team for their work in developing and evaluating their first eLearning module, “Visualizing the Neurobiology of Trauma.”

Despite the prevalence of individuals coping with traumatic experiences, few educational resources are available for family physicians to educate them on the complexities of caring for patients with trauma. The OPEN team developed animations for a case-based eLearning module to educate providers on how traumatic experiences can change brain structures and be debilitating for patients.

“Psychiatry is a very specialized field with a large amount of nuanced and subtle information needed to diagnose and treat patients,” says Dr. Valerie Taylor, co-lead and psychiatrist-in-chief, WCH. “By providing eLearning opportunities that are efficient and easily-accessible, other health professionals will be better informed to correctly refer patients to specialized programs.”

OPEN provides eLearning opportunities for health professionals and community healthcare providers to build community capacity for mental health services. The goal is to support community providers in building knowledge and translating innovations. OPEN’s education modules help family physicians better identify and assess psychiatric disorders, improving the way patients access specialized care. The modules are developed using a collaborative design that draws upon the expertise of many different health professionals and also patient experience.

For more information on OPEN, please visit the website.

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