May 2016

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Meet “Practising Wisely” Course Director, Dr. Jennifer Young

Dr. Jennifer Young is a comprehensive family physician and the Chief of Family Practice at the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. With a special interest in sharing best practices that improve patient care and reduce unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures, she is the Course Director of OCFP’s new Practising Wisely course.

Dr Jennifer YoungWhy is it important for physicians to think about de-prescribing and reducing tests and treatments?
JY: In the last two decades we have made huge strides in improving early diagnosis and treatment of illness, which clearly has improved patient care. An offshoot of this is that we have developed an over-reliance on tests and medications in treating disease. In fact we’re becoming an increasingly illness-focused society and doctors are not relying as much on our physical and clinical acumen. The reality is that medications can cause side effects, tests can have false positives and lead to more tests and stress, and overdiagnosis of diseases that are unlikely to ever cause harm, but can lead to unnecessary treatment. None of this provides any additional benefit to the patients – in fact it has physical, emotional and financial costs.

What can participants expect to take away from the Practising Wisely course?
JY: Participants will come away with a better understanding of the drivers of overutilization, potential harm caused by “doing too much” and will explore examples of some over-utilized drugs and diagnostics.  It will enhance their understanding of how to apply evidence to individual patients and how to communicate about why we might decide to hold off on ordering a test or prescribing a drug. Patients have specific expectations of what they want – whether a drug or a test, and we recognize it can be a challenge to navigate those discussions while ensuring the patient feels supported and heard. We help navigate the plethora of online evidence-based resources and patient education tools that can empower clinicians to learn what to do now and where to go for updated information in the ever-changing world of evidence informed medicine.

What do you think is the most useful practice-impacting aspect of this course?
JY: The most impact I believe will come from the practical hands-on approach of teaching physicians and other providers how to have meaningful discussions with patients. Specific cases deal with risks and benefits of screening for breast, prostate and colon cancer, how best to manage preventive health visits in a clinically meaningful way, how to manage back and knee pain, when to act on ovarian cysts, stop a proton pump inhibitors, statins and polypharmacy. Also useful are links to online resources that will provide ongoing help with up-to-date evidence.

Tell us a bit about how the new course came about:  
JY: In 2011 the OCFP launched our popular Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There! course, which focused on reducing unnecessary tests and treatments. It quickly became one of the OCFP’s most popular courses. Building on its foundation and feedback from hundreds of participants, we have taken an even more practical approach with Practising Wisely and added more focused discussions and tools that help physicians and patients share decision making. We’ve also scaled it so it is available in a half-day and full day format. Choosing Wisely Canada has collaborated with us and figures prominently in the course. We are also grateful for the expertise of planning committee members from across the country. This is part of the process of building a cross-Canada partnership with other CFPC Chapters and we are anticipating that facilitators from across the country will deliver the workshop as that initiative develops.  

About Dr. Jennifer Young

Dr. Jennifer Young is a comprehensive family doctor in the town of Collingwood. She is the Chief of Family Practice at the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital. Dr. Young’s interest in best practices comes from her desire to reduce reliance on testing that can lead to harm and to make the most of our health-care system through the best use of our knowledge and evidence. Dr. Young is a member of the OCFP’s Board of Directors and was the 2014-15 Chair of the OCFP’s Education and Research Committee.

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