The education program helps address the complexities that determine rates of sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) in Saskatchewan and their impact on patient care. Content will include clinical treatment and infection management and will feature the involvement of experienced HIV/HCV care providers, organizations and community members to create made-in-Saskatchewan solutions to the environment and to the unique challenges of the province.
The faculty and staff of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the USask College of Medicine are essential to the past and ongoing success of this program. Infectious disease specialists Dr. Alex Wong (MD) and Dr. Beverly Wudel (MD) will oversee the creation and delivery of medical education, with additional guidance provided by an advisory panel of family physicians experienced in delivering HIV and HCV care at clinics across the province.
“We are very pleased to have worked with our partners and colleagues already involved in delivering this important program to now be able to continue this essential work,” said Dr. Jim Barton (MD), Associate Dean of the CME. “This would not have been possible without the support of our provincial government. And we are pleased to make this announcement today, on National HIV Testing Day in Saskatchewan.
Over the past 10 years, Saskatchewan has had the highest rate of new HIV and hepatitis C diagnoses in Canada and the fastest growing rate of syphilis infections in the country, creating a need urgent need to educate primary care providers to recognize, test, treat, and manage these infections in their clinical practices.
“The government is pleased to fund initiatives and programs that improve the ability and confidence of health care providers to diagnose and treat sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs)said Health Minister Paul Merriman. “Programs like the STBBI Treatment Education Program for Saskatchewan (STEPS) will help improve access to healthcare professionals in more communities across the province and reduce the stigma that many feel about testing and treatment.”
Until March 2022, the STBBI training program for primary care providers was offered by the Saskatchewan Infectious Disease Care Network (SIDCN) as part of the Primary Care Capacity Enhancement: Treatment as Prevention project. , with four-year funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Harm Reduction Grant. This new ITSS program, renamed STEPS, will feature the continuation and growth of the education originally offered by SIDCN.
“I am so grateful that the incredible work that has been done continues, now with the educational leadership of CME, the involvement of experienced medical experts and staff, the important guidance of existing project stakeholders and the support of the ministry. of Health,” said Dr. Satchan Takaya (MD), an infectious disease specialist.
STEPS will build on and use resources used by the previous SIDCN project. This will include continuing the popular HIV and HCV virtual classrooms that address the testing, treatment and management of these infections in Saskatchewan. Based on the feedback, a new Syphilis Virtual Classroom will be launched along with several other new presentations, all related to the care and management of STBBIs in the province.
The program will target primary care providers, family medicine residents, nurse practitioners and registered nurses, and other allied health professions. A limited number of clinical mentorship opportunities will be available for physicians and nurse practitioners who can benefit from applying virtual classroom content in a clinical setting under the guidance of specialists and physicians experienced in HIV and HCV.
By hosting a new ITSS program within the CME, there is an opportunity to reach more learners and showcase the expertise and support of faculty in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Family Medicine. The program will also provide opportunities for collaboration with other STBBI stakeholders and strengthen efforts needed to support frontline providers and improve access to clinically informed, stigma-free STBBI healthcare. .