Most Canadians rely on their Primary Care Physician (PCP) to be educated in all medical areas and to ensure all symptoms are diagnosed early. The PCP is the first point of contact for patients with undiagnosed health concerns, and is knowledgeable of various medical conditions in order to provide continuing care. Although, General Practitioners (GPs) have a substantial mental library of medical information, lymphoma is regrettably not included in GP education and is continuously misdiagnosed throughout Canada.
As a Registered Nurse, Lymphoma Canada’s Executive Director, Sue Robson, was concerned with the number of people who were walking into a clinic or visiting their family doctor with flu like symptoms, and not finding out they had lymphoma until many months later. As a result of Robson’s findings, Lymphoma Canada partnered with mdBriefcase in June 2012 to offer PCPs in Canada a free course on early lymphoma detection.
LC’s mission is about more than providing education and support to patients and their families. It is about providing education to the entire lymphoma community. Due to the lack of available education and resources for GPs and pharmaceutical companies, a need for an improved lymphoma education was identified. With the support of mdBriefcase and lymphoma experts in Canada, LC was able to develop an online accredited course for GPs on Early Detection of Lymphoma in Primary Care.
As Canada’s foremost online continuing education provider, mdBriefcase provides free multimedia, interactive and accredited learning programs for over 40,000 Canadian physicians. Accessible to all Canadian physicians, medical students, residents and nurse practitioners, their programs are written by prominent medical experts and developed by respected educational institutions.
The Early Detection of Lymphoma in Primary Care course was released in June 2012 and was mdBriefcase’s first course offered on lymphoma. Its importance was made evident by the large number of GPs that completed the course within the first three months of it being available. The purpose of this course is to review the incidence and prevalence of lymphoma in Canada, describe the clinical manifestation of lymphoma and discuss approaches to the early recognition of lymphoma in clinical practice. It also discusses the role of the primary care provider in the follow up of lymphoma patients. The Early Detection of Lymphoma in Primary Care online course meets the accreditation criteria of The College of Family Physicians of Canada. General Practitioners qualify for up to one Mainpro credit. Lymphoma experts from across Canada were on the planning committee for this course. These experts included Dr. Matthew Cheung, Dr. John Kuruvilla, Dr. Sol Stern, Dr. Pravinsagar Mehta, and Dr. Bruce Wheeler.
In the program’s first three months, over 908 physicians participated. Of those participants, 64 per cent were GPs. First quarter results showed that there was a significant shift in behaviour from questions asked by physicians pre and post course. Of the 454 physicians who completed the pre-course survey, 36.25 per cent said they were likely to screen for lymphoma in a patient with persistent lymphadenopathy. After completing the course, that number increased to 78 per cent. Though almost 50 per cent of the PCPs taking the course are based in Ontario, there is also a good representation from British Columbia, Alberta, Maritimes, Quebec and Manitoba.
Early Detection of Lymphoma in Primary Care is an essential course within the lymphoma community to assist with early detection of the disease. There is a need to have more courses like this for healthcare professionals in Canada. Lymphoma Canada is identifying the gaps in education both in the health sectors, as well as among the general public. Through the gaps identified, LC will work to educate all groups within the lymphoma community. This will include looking at a similar program for nurses so they may be better informed about lymphoma as well.