John Stites, DC, DACBR, FACO, Davenport Campus

In January of this year I received an invitation to be a tutor-trainee for the “Improving your Practice/Teaching through Evidence Based Clinical Practice Workshop” at McMaster University. What an incredible honor. One other chiropractor from Northwestern University and I were invited to participate. The only other chiropractor ever invited to be a tutor-trainee received his PhD in epidemiology at McMaster.

The tutor-training program had been going on for a few years. The program at McMaster is 5 days long and is organized into large and small group sessions. Each small group consists of about 8 participants, two tutors and a tutor-trainee. The tutor-trainee is responsible for coordinating all the activities for the small groups, taking a lead role in teaching. The responsibilities start weeks in advance of the program. Members of the small group are contacted, background information gathered and the expectations and educational goals of the participants are obtained. In addition to working in the small groups the tutor-trainees meet with participants individually to help them reach their objectives. After each small group session the tutor-trainees meet with the tutors for feedback and discussion. There are special daily sessions with Gordon Guyatt, pre and post conference meetings, teaching sessions and informational sessions. Of course, there is participation in the rest of the conference too.

There are many factors in being selected to be a tutor-trainee. A major one is the recommendation of the tutors when you attend as a participant. I participated in the McMaster workshop three times, first with R25 grant support. I found the experience so valuable that I then funded my own attendance. Other factors include the perceived fit with those who are attending the program. I was assigned to work with a group of naturopathic physicians from a single institution. The fact I was a chiropractor seemed to work well with this group.

My experience overall was intense, full of insights, expanded awareness of what I know and what I still need to learn and absolutely exhausting. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. 

I consider my experience as a tutor-trainee a highlight in my career. I’ve become passionate about EBCP. Applying EBCP principles brings clarity of thought to clinical care by shining a light on current knowledge and always remaining focused on what is important: the patient. Evidence has no professional or political association. In health care, it is a universal language.