Applications Open! CanadiEM Digital Scholar Fellowship 2023 -2024

In Commentary by Blair BighamLeave a Comment

We’re now accepting applications for 2023-2024. Fellowships are 6-18 months long with
flexible start time and pace. Applications are accepted throughout the year. The deadline is May 1, 2023 for a start date of July 1, 2023.

A Message From the Fellowship Director
The DSF has been instrumental in launching the careers of some of the best medical educators in Canada. Flexible and malleable, it allows senior residents and health professionals who are keen to develop expertise in modern medical education. With those eyeing leadership roles in academic and community institutions, the DSF can be combined with other education or technology study, such as masters level training, the Royal College Clinician educator diploma course of study, and advanced training in health advocacy. Personally, my own involvement in the DSF allowed me to pursue the practice-eligible route to become a Diplomate of the RCPSC, which has given me the stills and qualifications to pursue career opportunities. It also gave me the skills I needed to be recognized for my teaching talents when I was in Fellowship at Stanford University. I hope the answers to the questions below will help clarify why I think the DSF could be the missing piece to your residency puzzle. Reach out anytime! 

– Dr. Blair Bigham

WHY should you do it?

  • Have you found that digital learning has helped you master knowledge and skill?
  • Have you developed friendships and role models by hanging out on social media?
  • Have you sunk into another realm while listening to a podcast or watching a web video?
  • If so, maybe you’ve thought about flipping from a digital content user to a digital content creator! 

The Digital Scholar Fellowship, a remote, variably-paced, flexible curriculum and mentored
project, might be for you!

You’ll explore our specialized online curricula by modules – core and elective – to build digital
scholarship capacity and skills that interest you. Then we’ll put you to work by challenging you
to use what you’ve learned to create, plan, execute and launch/publish a project under the
coaching and mentorship of our team of digital scholarship experts at CanadiEM and around the

Here are our objectives in offering this fellowship:

  1. To develop innovative educators through hands on training across digital formats.
  2. To apply robust medical education theory to online learning formats.
  3. To build a strong digital identity and professional social network.
  4. To collaborate with, and learn from, experienced digital educators from around the world.

WHO should apply?

You must fall into one of these categories:

  • PGY 3, 4 or 5 FRCPC Emergency Medicine residents
  • CCFP-EM residents graduating in 2023 or 2024
  • Practicing Independent Physicians from any specialty
  • Nurses, Physiotherapist, Social Workers, Paramedics, and other healthcare professionals

And you are:

  • Interested in medical education and digital scholarship
  • Interested in flexible subspecialty time that can be completed remotely at your own pace
  • A self-motivated learner with strong organizational skills

Consider the Digital Scholar Fellowship!

WHAT will you learn?

Let’s start with this important tenet: the fellowship is all about you! You’ll come into the
fellowship with learning objectives and project goals, which will probably shift over time but
will be the backbone of how we get started. 

There are two key components to the DSF.

The most important is your impact project.  Learning while doing, you will develop and execute
a project – anything from creating a curriculum to producing a podcast to studying a learning gap
– and we’ll coach you through that process. We’ll connect you to experts and coaches who will
invest in your success, and help you launch/distribute/publish your outputs so you have
maximum impact.

To succeed with your project, you’ll access the second component: our modular, competency-
based curriculum with expert coaching.
  We have 5 modules for you to work through at your
pace, in the order that makes sense to you.  With the help of your local mentor and CanadiEM
faculty, you will complete each of these modules over a 1-3 month span.  They aren’t all
mandatory; you and your CanadiEM faculty coach will help decide which modules will help you
achieve success. Here is a description of the 5 modules

  1. Blogging Module
    • During this block, the learner will aim to gain an overall understanding of
      designing online using written/visual website media. They will also explore the
      fundamentals of curriculum design, gaining an understanding of the challenges of
      adapting a traditional curriculum design framework to the online teaching and
      learning environment. (Take a look at the module here.)
  2. Podcasting Module
    • The learner will gain an understanding of effective design for digital teaching
      tools, the basic technical skills required for interviewing guests, recording and
      editing podcasts, the application of teaching principals to podcasting to maximize
      audience engagement and knowledge retention, knowledge dissemination through
      social media and other digital channels, and the fundamentals of curriculum
      design. (Module available upon enrollment.)
  3. Patient Communication Module
    • Successfully implement knowledge translation to patients and healthcare
      providers. Various strategies exist for dissemination of information to the general
      public, and the learner will explore and implement this information into their
      FOAMed work, as well as learning strategies to incorporate social media into
      their medical practice. (Module available upon enrollment.)
  4. Digital Identity Module
    • During this block, the learner will gain an understanding of the concept of a
      digital footprint, both outside and within medicine. They will learn how to
      maintain a professional digital identity of their own, as well as how to navigate
      the new legal and ethical challenges of the use of social media both personally
      and professionally. They will also gain insight into a variety of social platforms
      and the opportunities and challenges that they provide for physicians. (Module
      available upon enrollment.)
  5. Translational Teachers Module
    • This block aims to instruct the learner on strategies to promote research within the
      social media community. These strategies will include creating blog posts and
      infographics specifically for knowledge translation purposes. Learners will reflect
      on how individuals and institutions can collaborate to promote research. (Module
      available upon enrollment.)

WHAT will you accomplish?

In addition to meeting your learning objectives through coaching and module completion, you’ll
be able to demonstrate real impact by putting theory into practice as you develop and execute a
project.  You’ll enter the fellowship with an idea, and we’ll help you refine it into a plan that can
be executed as you build skills and complete modules that equip you with the judgement and
tools needed to succeed. 

Your project might be to launch a new digital teaching platform, to contribute to existing
platforms, to create content for social media (such as a new TikTok channel), to produce a
podcast or audio series, to conduct research, to develop a digital curriculum for use by your
university, program or hospital, develop evaluation tools for existing programs, or anything else
that fits with your objectives that we think we can add value to through the fellowship.

HOW do the nuts and bolts work?

You’ll be partnered with a CanadiEM faculty coach who will serve as your advisor. You’ll also
identify a local mentor – someone who can be a sounding board and help you create and learn. 
Your CanadiEM coach and local mentor will work together to help you accomplish your goals,
from module completion to project execution.  Depending on the stage of your fellowship, this
might include monthly, weekly or even daily check ins as you learn and create.  We’ll identify
experts that we can bring on board to help accelerate and amplify your progress.  Sound a bit
loose? It is. We offer a very flexible fellowship with various degrees of supervision depending
on your own capacity entering the fellowship and aspirations for after fellowship. 

In as little as six months, and as many as two years, you’ll have completed the modules that are
deemed necessary to your learning objectives and completed a project that will have impact in
the digital sphere.

HOW do you apply?

Only three things are required to apply.

1: Letter of Intent

Tell us your desire and interest to work with the CanadiEM team as one of our Digital Scholars.
Specifically, what skillsets do you hope to develop during the fellowship? What will you do with
those skillsets during and after fellowship? We want to know about any project ideas or goals
you have, and how we can help you turn your ideas into impactful output and your goals into
achievements. Wew want you walk away from the DSF having achieved a deliverable; don’t
worry, we’ll be crafting this with you, but if you have any ideas about what gets you energized
we’d love to hear about it. This may be as simple as “I love podcasts and want to learn more!” or
as comprehensive as “I have a research project about knowledge translation that I want to
execute over social media.”

2: Letter of Endorsement

Your residency Program Director or a supervising individual from your field/occupation should
provide us a letter not longer than 2 pages with the following information:

  1. That s/he is aware and in support of your digital scholar program involvement;
  2. That s/he agrees with your selection of your local mentor;
  3. The number of shifts and other program-related responsibilities you will have over the
    course of your Digital Scholars program (e.g. shift requirement, teaching responsibilities,
    administrative responsibilities);
  4. The proposed duration of your DSF (6 to 18 months);
  5. The name of a mentor who will be your support person. This person does not need
    expertise in digital scholarship, just a strong interest.  Please provide us with an email
    address, so we can reach out to them and discuss your educational plan.
3: Local Mentor Support

Find a faculty member locally who is keen to support you through your fellowship. They don’t
need specific expertise in digital scholarship, but should be available to be a sounding board to
help you advance your learning and project outputs.  We don’t need a letter from this person, but
your letter of endorsement should mention that they are a resource to you. Just let us know who
your mentor is and how we can contact them to ensure you are set up for success!
Still have questions?

Applications and questions can be emailed to fellowship director Blair Bigham (that’s me!) and
we can schedule a chat. Email: [email protected]

Blair Bigham

Blair Bigham

Blair Bigham is a flight paramedic, resident physician and wannabe astronaut in Ontario, Canada. He has spent the last decade balancing life as a clinician, educator and scientist. When not roaming the skies, wards, or recesses of his imagination he can found kayaking in Canada’s great white north.