ADVERTORIAL – Sponsored by EMD Serono
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the LAUNCH Residents’ Review and Development program, which provides PGY-5 neurology residents and international medical graduates with a comprehensive review of all areas of neurology in preparation for their Royal College board certification examinations.
The educational program comprises a practice written examination, a simulated Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to assess clinical competence, and a series of didactic lectures in sub-specialty fields of neurology. The current program chairs are neurologists Dr. Reza Vosoughi, University of Manitoba; and Dr. Hélène Parpal, Université de Montréal.
“It’s a great experience for the participants,” said Dr. Vosoughi. “The program enables them to identify their strengths and weaknesses as they live the experience of the exam. It’s also a great environment for networking with other residents in the same year of training.”
The content of the program adheres to the core principles of adult learning, such as identifying learning gaps; developing practical skills; and using problem-based learning techniques.
The quality of LAUNCH is evaluated by faculty and participants at the end of each program. In participant feedback, the program has received high marks for organization, the appropriateness of the OSCE exams and actors, and for meeting expectations. Thus far, all survey respondents have said that they would recommend the program to their colleagues.
LAUNCH has grown rapidly since its inception in 2007, in large part due to the efforts of the program organizers, the commitment of the participants, and the firm support of the academic community. In the first year, 34 residents took part in the program. That number has now doubled – to 71 residents in 2016. Over 500 residents have completed the program to date.
“We now have the problem of an expanding number of applications that will probably exceed our capacity,” Dr. Vosoughi noted.
To enable the development and operation of LAUNCH, EMD Serono has invested over $2.5 million in the program over the past decade. “EMD Serono is extremely proud to have celebrated our 10th year as the sole sponsor of the LAUNCH program,” said Gaby Murphy, Managing Director and General Manager at EMD Serono. “In business, it isn’t always easy to make decisions on where to invest – it’s the reason we’ve seen so many others divest from programs such as these. But EMD Serono is committed to improving patient care – and we’ve seen how physician education is a key factor in accomplishing that goal.”
He added that EMD Serono has had a long-standing commitment to providing high-level scientific educational programs to health care providers. As part of that commitment, EMD Serono employees volunteer their time to help with the program’s administrative tasks – with some even agreeing to play the role of neurology patients for the clinical examinations.
“As a leader in our industry, we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to give back to the community we work in, and to find ethical ways to partner with physicians and nurses,” Murphy said. “Education for us has always been a way to do both. With that in objective in mind, 12 years ago we looked to find a program that would meet an unmet need and serve as a contribution to the neurology community. We’d already established success with these types of programs in reproductive endocrinology and dermatology. After an extensive needs analysis, we discovered that there was a strong need in neurology as well.”
Involving industry in educational programs can be problematic, as shown by the increasingly stringent requirements for these collaborations that many academic centres have developed. In contrast, LAUNCH has become something of a role model for academia-industry collaborations in successfully providing an ethical, non-promotional learning environment for faculty and participants.
“In working with industry, our universities have guidelines that we all follow,” said Dr. Vosoughi. “But this program was easy – it doesn’t promote any product of the sponsoring company.”
EMD Serono has continued to support LAUNCH in large part because of the commitment shown by faculty members, and the feedback the company has received from participants. “To run the practice OSCEs requires a lot from our faculty – it takes effort and stamina for them to perform 528 exams in one day,” Murphy said. “But they continue to come back – and some have been with the program since its inception.
“The residents have told us how valuable the program has been to their studies and preparation. They’ve commented on how well-prepared they feel for their final exams, and how much this has reduced their stress. We’ve even had residents tell us that they wouldn’t have passed without the practice and review they received at LAUNCH,” Murphy said. He noted that many residents who have gone through the program are eager to come back as faculty. “This speaks to the success and benefits of LAUNCH. The program is finally representing a true partnership with the goal to increase the quality of life for people with neurological conditions.”
The LAUNCH program will continue to be a key initiative of the Medical Learning Department at EMD Serono, which also provides a wide range of preceptorship and fellowship programs. “We’re committed to our Canadian academic centres, which have told us how important the LAUNCH program is,” said Murphy. “It’s one of the many ways that the people at EMD Serono can demonstrate our leadership in the field of neurology.”
For more information on the LAUNCH program, please visit www.thelaunchprogram.ca.