Teaching roles & job descriptions

With the launch of the Foundations Curriculum for first-year medical students in the 2016-2017 academic year, there are new and diverse opportunities to take an active role in shaping the next generation of medical professionals.

The Foundations Curriculum features a highly integrated program that offers students an active and diverse learning experience with early exposure to clinical content that promotes learning in context.

The Foundations Curriculum is comprised of: courses, components and themes.  An important feature of the Foundations Curriculum is that each week has a full day that is unscheduled, and available for self-study, and for student-led activities such as Enriching Educational Experiences (EEE).

There are five courses in the Foundations Curriculum. Each course contains four components that run throughout.  Longitudinal themes are interwoven throughout the entire curriculum. 

Curriculum Structure IllustrationCourses

  • Introduction to Medicine:  an introduction to the basic and social sciences relevant to medicine, to cognitive science, to clinical skills and community health
  • Concepts, Patients and Communities 1 & 2: provides instruction on health and the diagnosis and treatment of disease relevant to all of the body’s systems, and includes a consideration of all of the major themes.
  • Life Cycle: Provides instruction on health and disease from conception, antenatal development, birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, aging, and for patients who are dying
  • Chronicity and Complexity: A consolidation of the program with emphasis on chronic disease management, and complex problems with preparation for the clerkship

Contact your Medical Education Office for a detailed breakdown of courses, sections, and sub-sections in the Foundations Curriculum.

Course components

Throughout each course, there are four components through which content is delivered. These components include:

  • TOPIC (Toronto Patient-centred Integrated Curriculum) which occupies the majority of time each week and focuses on core basic, clinical and social science content.
  • ICE (Integrated Clinical Experience) which occupies two half-days per week and comprises clinical skills teaching and community-based teaching in community, population and public health. In addition, time is provided to students for Enriching Educational Experiences such as Family Medicine Longitudinal Experiences (FMLE).
  • Health Sciences Research (HSR)  introduced for second year students in 2015-2016, and now in both years of the Foundations Curriculum.
  • Portfolio consists of six small group meetings over the course of each year that focus on reflective practice, with additional individual faculty-student advisor meetings in which context students engage in guided self-assessment and reflection on academic progress and assessment information contained in each students' MD Program Learner chart.

Longitudinal themes comprising the CanMEDS roles, distinct patient populations, and specific content areas, also span the two years of the curriculum and are taught in all five courses.

Learn more about how to get involved.

Faculty Support/Development 

If you are preparing to engage in these teaching roles the MD Program Office of Faculty Development will make available a variety of foundational resources that you can consult and/or attend prior to and during your role in this course.  

The Foundational Faculty Support/Development for each role will be offered using Hybrid (Blended) Learning and will require on average 4 hours of faculty time. This program is highly recommended.

Additional enrichment resources will also be made available, in addition to the foundational opportunities, to assist you as you increase your expertise in these roles.

Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) 

In the Foundations Curriculum, Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) is the setting in which students learn clinical skills, in addition to their participation in other clinical and community based educational activities. It integrates content from both the former Art and Science of Clinical Medicine and CPPH courses, allowing us to convey the clinical relevance of both content areas in a concrete way for students. In addition, time is provided to students for Enriching Educational Experiences (both shadowing and Longitudinal Department Experiences).

Clinical Skills Tutor  (years one and two)

This role is essentially the same as the previous ASCM 1 and 2 tutor roles.  Tutors will meet with a small group of students in Academy settings for one half day a week for clinical skills teaching.  Preparation time and teaching hours are unchanged.  The major difference is that the Foundations Curriculum has been reorganized chronologically in both first and second year to integrate more closely with the students’ academic courses.  A minor difference is that students will learn physical exam skills earlier in the course of first year. 

Tutors will be gifted teachers, with an interest and commitment to teaching the clinical encounter to undergraduate trainees.  Skill in providing honest, supportive feedback to students is an asset.

See full Clinical Skills Tutor job description - year one (PDF).

See full Clinical Skills Tutor job description - year two (PDF)

Community, Population & Public Health (CPPH) Tutor (years one and two)

The CPPH curriculum, which delivers community, population and public health content in Foundations, uses multiple teaching modalities including lectures, tutorials, field experiences, online modules and readings. The tutor role is largely unchanged from the current CPPH tutor role.  Over the course of five tutorials in year one, tutors help students integrate CPPH principles delivered in lectures with field experiences. Tutors facilitate student discussions, encouraging students to raise questions, issues, and observations about the CPPH material in a small-group format (10-12 students), to give examples of concepts from own clinical experiences, to model interprofessional interactions, and to provide formative feedback to students when necessary.  In year two, tutors facilitate four additional tutorials with the purpose of supporting students in their Community-Based Service Learning Activities (CBSL). Tutorials include a variety of academic readings, videos/podcasts, case studies, interactive activities and discussion topics that are intended to explore course themes and topics delivered through lecture and readings, and also to provide students with an opportunity to reflect meaningfully on their engaged learning experiences.

Tutors are enthusiastic community-focused clinicians who have an interest in community health, disease prevention, and health promotion. Tutors are gifted teachers, with an interest and commitment to teaching the clinical encounter to undergraduate trainees. Skill in providing honest, supportive feedback to students is an asset.

See full CPPH Tutor job description - year one and two (PDF)

Toronto Patient-Centred Integrated Curriculum (TOPIC) years one and two

In the Foundations Curriculum, TOPIC (Toronto’s Patient-centred Integrated Curriculum) brings together case based learning, clinical application workshops, lectures (both online and-in person) virtual cases, and curated online resources, to provide students with an integrated approach to learning the foundational basic and clinical sciences, social sciences and humanities subjects relevant to medicine.  

1) Case-Based Learning Tutor  - Faculty Led Sessions (years one and two)  

Case-Based Learning (CBL) is a form of small group learning where a case is used to stimulate and guide student learning. Specifically in medical education, cases are written as real-life clinical problems that provide students with context in order to promote the relevance of what they are learning and, where appropriate, to assist them in integrating basic science content with clinical presentations. Through CBL, students consolidate their learning by applying prior and newly acquired knowledge, actively collaborating with their group members, using problem solving and critical thinking skills, and identifying their own learning needs as they attempt to understand the case(s).

Using the content in the tutor guide prepared by the content experts, the pedagogical instructions within the guide, and the group assignment submitted by the students, the CBL tutors help the students attain a deep approach to learning of the case materials¹. The CBL tutors need not to be content experts.  From the past experience of tutors and students, it is far more important to have a longitudinal relationship with the group of students, rather than content expertise.

Tutorials occur once weekly for two and a half hours. We are looking for tutors who can commit to teach, possibly within a small tutor team, throughout a course, as we are prioritizing a longitudinal relationship between tutors and students that will enhance tutor opportunities for mentorship, role modelling, and formative feedback.

CBL tutors will be the Faculty of Medicine’s most hands-on clinical teachers, employing a practical, ‘bedside teaching’ approach to the basic and clinical science foundations of undergraduate medical education.

Please contact your Medical Education Office for more information about any of the CBL cases.

See full CBL Tutor job description years one & two (PDF).

2) Lecturers (year one and two) 

TOPIC will still engage lecturers for both in-person and recorded lectures to enrich the CBL curriculum.  In-person lecturers will be asked to incorporate inter-professional teaching approaches, patient perspectives and team-based learning strategies, particularly for in-person sessions, to maximize student involvement, collaboration, and retention.  Lecturers will be skilled public speakers and educators, with expertise in a specific area.

Online lecturers will work with Discovery Commons to create multimedia teaching modules.  Online lecturers will be experts in their field with an interest and commitment to developing online educational tools.

3) Clinical Decision Making (CDM) Workshop Leaders /Longitudinal Theme Workshops (year one and two) 

These intermittently scheduled workshops are similar to the expert-led seminars currently occurring in the curriculum and will continue to provide students with enriched opportunities to apply basic science concepts to a variety of clinical presentations, to expand their repertoire of differential diagnoses, investigatory strategies, and treatment options, and to be exposed to specialist physicians, and the nature of generalist-specialist collaborations.  Workshop leaders will be asked to facilitate one or two workshops that are two hours in length in their area of clinical expertise.  Workshop leaders will be content experts with facility and skill in helping undergraduate medical trainees translate their academic knowledge to the clinical arena.

Health Sciences Research Course 

The Health Science Research (HSR) is part of the preclerkship MD Program curriculum and all students will be expected to participate in HSR.  As part of their experience, students learn about posing a research question, research methods, research ethics, critical appraisal, evidence-based medicine and knowledge translation skills, critical to the role of an informed clinician.

Learning occurs via both online modules (for core topics in the design and implementation of research work as well as its interpretation), and small-group faculty-led tutorial sessions approximately once per month (for work on student practicum exercises).

1) Lecturers (year one and two) 

Lecturers will be researchers in their field and recognized excellent public speakers who will be invited by the Course Director to provide a lecture in their area of translational research for the purposes of inspiration and allowing students access to innovative and ground breaking areas of medical research.

2) Tutors (year two only) 

In second year, the HSR curriculum is delivered via online modules (theme based) and 12 tutorials that are two hours in length where students can consolidate the core course content and present and receive feedback on their research practicums.  The course themes focus on posing a research question, research methods, research ethics, critical appraisal, evidence-based medicine and knowledge translation skills, critical to the role of an informed clinician.  Students’ practicum exercise focuses on giving students the opportunity to develop a research protocol and participate in an in-depth development of a single aspect of the research protocol: a literature review, REB application, scientific review, methods analysis etc. Tutors will be experienced researchers themselves with a gift and commitment for teaching early career trainees.

See full HSR Tutor job description (PDF).


The Portfolio component has previously consisted of a highly valued course by students and faculty that takes place in third and fourth year, in which students meet in small groups with a resident and faculty member (Academy Scholars) over the course of the year to reflect on, and make sense of, their clinical experiences as they develop their professional identities.  The purpose of the meetings is for students to share stories of their experiences in the wards, clinics, and offices of their rotations, and to discuss how these experiences are influencing their development in the CanMEDS roles.

We are now offering first and second year students the opportunity to engage in similar discussions related to their medical education: for example, their first visit to the anatomy lab where they meet the cadaver from whom they will learn anatomy; the experience of doing their first physical exam on a patient; how to develop a life-long approach to managing their workload and maintaining overall wellness.

In addition, Academy Scholars in the Foundations Curriculum will have an expanded role, where they will be asked to serve as mentors and advisors to the individual students in their group.

1) Foundations Portfolio Academy Scholar role (year one and two) 

In 2016-2017, Portfolio expanded into the first and second years, beginning with the incoming class of 2016-2017.  Students meet on eight occasions during the academic year in small groups of 8-10 with their Academy Scholars to reflect and discuss key subjects relevant to their experiences as first year medical students, linked to the educational content and activities of their other courses.  The Academy Scholars facilitate and guide these discussions. 

In addition, Academy Scholars in the Foundations Curriculum will have an expanded role, where they will be asked to serve as mentors and advisors to the students in their group. This role consists of meeting with each student in an office hour format on two occasions during the academic year and where they jointly review the student’s MD Program learner chart, consisting of his or her formal assessments, and student’s reflections and progress review.

While this role has similarities to the role of the Academy Scholar in Clerkship, it is significantly expanded in terms of scope in the Foundations Curriculum, giving faculty an opportunity to provide extensive longitudinal feedback to a group of students. 

As with the Clerkship Academy Scholars, Foundations Portfolio Academy Scholars will be enthusiastic and committed teachers with a desire to guide students on the path of professional growth and maturity, and academic excellence in the context of a mutually enriching longitudinal relationship.

See full Portfolio Tutor description - year one (PDF).

See full Portfolio Tutor description - year two (PDF)



¹  F. Marton and R. Sajo “On Qualitiative Differences in learning: 1 Outcome and Process” British Journal of Education Psychology 46, pp4-11(1976) 


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