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Maritime WCBs team up with university on online courses

HALIFAX (Canadian OH&S News)


HALIFAX (Canadian OH&S News)

Workers’ compensation boards in the three Maritime provinces have teamed up with Halifax-based Dalhousie University to provide family physicians in these provinces with access to online courses in occupational medicine.

The Maritime Occupational Medicine Continuing Medical Education Alliance will provide courses not only to physicians, but also stakeholders with a vested interest in occupational medicine, including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, case managers, workers and employers, says Dr Douglas Margison, chief medical officer of WorkSafeNB. The courses are accredited, providing Continuing Medical Education credits for family physicians in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Dr Margison, who serves as the interim chair of the committee that is overseeing the educational development of the online courses, says that the alliance will be providing one course each year.

Courses stemming from the first topic, which deals with the pitfalls of prescribing time off, are expected to be released in the fall.

Research chair position to be created

“There will be an increased awareness of occupational medicine, injuries, diseases, exposure assessment and management,” predicts Dr Margison, adding that an endowed research chair in occupational medicine will be hired and based in Saint John to chair the committee overseeing the development of the courses. The committee consists of a specialist consultant and one family physician from each of the Maritime provinces.

“With no academic programs in occupational medicine east of Toronto, this alliance, combined with the establishment of a research chair in occupational medicine at Dalhousie University’s medical school in Saint John, will help ensure best practices in disability management and return to work,” says Sharon Tucker, chairperson of WorkSafeNB’s board of directors, in a statement.

The impetus for the creation of the alliance stems from WorkSafeNB’s work over the past decade with retired orthopedic surgeon Dr Eric Gozna, explains Dr Margison. His courses, also developed for family physicians, dealt with topics such as disability management, third-party medicine, return-to-work and various types of injuries. “What if these courses were provided through Dalhousie medical school?” Dr Margison asks.

The courses will be funded by WorkSafeNB, the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia and the Workers Compensation Board of PEI, with NB funding about 51 per cent of the project costs, Nova Scotia 45 per cent and PEI about four per cent, Dr Margison says.

The three compensation boards are notifying major stakeholders about these courses, while Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine will develop, host and maintain the courses on their website (http://cme.medicine.dal.ca/online_mdcme.htm). The website will track physicians logged in and which courses have been completed, and a certificate can then be issued to the family doctor.