Tutor Life


The FitzGerald Academy (Fitz) is comprised of an integrated network of hospitals and community agencies committed to excellence in undergraduate medical education, including:


  • St. Michael’s Hospital (main academic anchor hospital)
  • St. Joseph’s Health Centre
  • The Hospital for Sick Children
  • A variety of community agencies


At Fitz, students receive outstanding education from committed teachers in a welcoming and supportive environment. Preclerkship students may be placed at St. Michael’s Hospital or St. Joseph’s Health Centre for clinical skills teaching.


Currently, student enrollment in Fitz is 54 students for first year. In total, Fitz registers over 700 preclerkship, clerkship and elective medical students per year. We recruit over 300 tutors from all departments across St. Michael’s hospital.

Job Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Year 1


Cased Based Learning (CBL)

Case-Based Learning (CBL) is a form of small group learning where a case is used to stimulate and guide student learning. Specifically in medical education, cases are written as real-life clinical problems that provide students with context in order to promote the relevance of what they are learning and, where appropriate, to assist them in integrating basic science content with clinical presentations. Through CBL, students consolidate their learning by applying prior and newly acquired knowledge, actively collaborating with their group members, using problem solving and critical thinking skills, and identifying their own learning needs as they attempt to understand the case(s).


Using the content in the tutor guide prepared by the content experts, the pedagogical instructions within the guide, and the group assignment submitted by the students, the CBL tutors will help the students attain a deep approach to learning of the case materials¹. The CBL tutors need not to be content experts.  From the past experience of tutors and students, it is far more important to have a longitudinal relationship with the group of students, rather than content expertise.


Tutorials occur once weekly for two and a half hours.  In first year, tutors may teach up to 12 weeks consecutively alone, or choose to share the 12 weeks with one or more tutors in a collaborative team model.


CBL tutors will be the Faculty of Medicine’s most hands-on clinical teachers, employing a practical, ‘bedside teaching’ approach to the basic and clinical science foundations of undergraduate medical education.

Health Science Research

The Health Science Research (HSR) is part of the preclerkship MD Program curriculum and all students will be expected to participate in HSR.  As part of their experience students will learn about posing a research question, research methods, research ethics, critical appraisal, evidence-based medicine and knowledge translation skills, critical to the role of an informed clinician.


Learning occurs via both online modules (for core topics in the design and implementation of research work as well as its interpretation), and small-group faculty-led tutorial sessions approximately once per month (for work on student practicum exercises).


Clinical Skills (ICE)

In the Foundations Curriculum, The Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) is the setting in which students will learn clinical skills, in addition to their participation in other clinical and community based educational activities. It integrates content from both the former Art and Science of Clinical Medicine and HC courses, allowing us to convey the clinical relevance of both content areas in a concrete way for students. In addition time is provided to students for Enriching Educational Experiences (both shadowing and Longitudinal Department Experiences).

Tutors will meet with a small group of students in Academy settings for one half day a week for clinical skills teaching.  Preparation time and teaching hours are unchanged.  The major difference is that the Foundations Curriculum has been reorganized chronologically in both first and second year to integrate more closely with the students’ academic courses.  A minor difference is that students will learn physical exam skills earlier in the course of first year.

Tutors will be gifted teachers, with an interest and commitment to teaching the clinical encounter to undergraduate trainees.  Skill in providing honest, supportive feedback to students is an asset.



The ICE-HC curriculum is designed to challenge medical students in years 1 and 2 to understand the social determinants of health, the role of the physician in society, and community engagement. It is a longitudinal two year curriculum. The curriculum is focused around three central questions:

Why are some people healthier than others?
What is community?
Where is community?

The ICE-HC curriculum uses multiple teaching modalities including tutorials, field experiences and readings to deliver content in the Foundations Curriculum.  Tutorials are led by a team of two academy-based tutors, including one physician and an allied health professional.  Tutorial groups contain 6-8 students. The role of tutors is to guide students in small group discussion and reflection, provide feedback and assess deliverables, and serve as a link between students and community partners in Year 2.


Foundations Portfolio

In 2016/17, Portfolio will be expanding into the first and second years, beginning with the incoming class of 2016/17.  Students will meet on eight occasions during the academic year in small groups of 8-10 with their Academy Scholars to reflect and discuss key subjects relevant to their experiences as first year medical students, linked to the educational content and activities of their other courses.  The Academy Scholars will facilitate and guide these discussions.


In addition, Academy Scholars in the Foundations Curriculum will have an expanded role, where they will be asked to serve as mentors and advisors to the students in their group. This role will consist of meeting with each student in an office hour format on two occasions during the academic year and reviewing an e-portfolio compiled by the student, consisting of his or her formal assessments, and the student’s reflections and learning plan related to these assessments.


While this role has similarities to the role of the Academy Scholar in Clerkship it is significantly expanded in terms of scope in the Foundations Curriculum, giving faculty an opportunity to provide extensive longitudinal feedback to a group of students.
As with the Clerkship Academy Scholars, Foundations Portfolio Academy Scholars will be enthusiastic and committed teachers with a desire to guide students on the path of professional growth and maturity, and academic excellence in the context of a mutually enriching longitudinal relationship.



Year 2


Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE2)

In the Foundations Curriculum, the Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) is the setting in which students will learn clinical skills, in addition to their participation in other clinical and community based educational activities, and will be replacing the Art and Science of Clinical Medicine course.
The students’ clinical skills teaching experience will be scheduled for one day per week for the entire two-years of Foundations. In second year, this takes place on Thursday mornings (with some sessions also on Monday afternoon/morning).
Students are assigned to a variety of academy-linked clinical settings. The clinical skills and health care setting learning in ICE will correlate with the curricular content in the concurrent TOPIC and Portfolio components.


Health Science Research

The HSR course is an introduction to the principles of research, directed at helping you understand and use research to contribute to improving the health of people and populations, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, in Canada and globally.
It is expected that most students will be involved in research or quality improvement activities to some degree at various times in their career. Some students will be involved in research through a project during medical school or residency. Others may be involved in research because their patients will be recruited as participants in a clinical trial. Many may collaborate on projects with others who are the principal investigator, while some students will have research as their principal career activity. All will be involved as consumers of research.

Through HSR, you will learn the epistemological underpinnings of the scientific method as well as the skills required to conduct, evaluate and apply health-related research, thus broadening your experience and understanding of the translational research pathway.

Two major foci of the course are to:

  • develop the student’s understanding of qualitative and quantitative methodologies and techniques
  • help the student to appreciate translational research


Health in Community (HC2)

The Year 2 curriculum centers around Community-Based Service-Learning (CBSL) placements, which connect students with community organizations for hands-on learning experiences. ICE-HC tutors will be paired with one of our community partner organizations with the aim of creating enduring relationships (returning tutors will be paired with the same community organization year after year). Connecting tutors with community partners and developing/supporting tutors is done centrally by ICE-HC staff.
The supervisors from our community partner organizations will collaborate with tutors to act as co-educators for the medical students. Students in each tutorial group will be divided between the partner organizations their tutors are connected with to complete 14 field experience half-days at their placement site in the community. Additionally, the first tutorial session of Year 2 will take place at the community partner site, and the third tutorial session of Year 2 will have community partners coming to the academies to co-facilitate the session.
These placements encourage students to participate, observe, contribute and advocate within community organizations. In addition to the 4 tutorial sessions in second year, students will also attend 14 Field Experience half-days and a final Community Forum event.


Mechanisms, Manifestations and Management of Disease (MMMD)

MMMD is a 36-week course which runs throughout the second year of medical school. The first nine weeks of the course concentrate on the mechanisms of disease: the pathogenesis and the changes in disease that occur at the tissue, cellular and molecular levels and how these correlate clinically.

The mechanisms section covers the major categories of human disease and is divided into four major topics:

  • genetics and genetic diseases
  • immunology and disorders of the immune system
  • microbiology
  • pathology

A three-week case-based learning (CBL) unit will take place during the first three weeks of MMMD this coming year and will cover the topics of Cell Damage, Inflammation, and Neoplasia.

The remaining 27 weeks of the course consist of system-based medicine with each week structured around one or more themes. Instruction consists of lectures, weekly problem-based tutorials, and small-group workshops. Problem-based tutorials and workshops build on information covered in lectures, but also allow you to develop skills in clinical decision making, communication, collaboration, health advocacy and resource management. Small-group workshops help reinforce concepts and teach basic skills such as intubation.



We believe at the Fitz Academy that mentorship can have a powerful influence in a student’s life. If you are interested in being paired with a student to meet with 1-3 per year please contact Sonya Surbek or Lars Fonteyne.




How does Tutor Recruitment work?

Each year Dr. Zirkle sends out recruitment letters with teaching requests to all departments in the hospital. Since St. Michael’s Hospital is an academic institution, the teaching hours are split fairly across all departments. This is done by calculating amount of staff in each department and the amount of teaching hours we need covered.


How do I get involved with Teaching?

We are always eager for new tutors to join the Fitzgerald Academy. Please email us with a brief description of which courses you would like to teach or if you would just like to be on the backup teaching list.


How do I get my room location?

Sonya or Lars will send you room information and group composites of the students you will be teaching a week before your start teaching date.


Where do I access materials for teaching?

All the teaching materials are on the portal (https://portal.utoronto.ca) You need a UTROid to access these. Please email Sonya or Lars if you need a UTORid.


How do I access my MedSIS account?

If you need to reset your MedSIS account or have any questions about MedSIS please email Frazer Howard fraz.howard@utoronto.ca


What if I am unavailable to teach on a date that I am scheduled for?

If you have been scheduled to teach by your department and you are not able to make the teaching session, you are responsible for finding a replacement to teach your session.


Any more FAQ about the Foundations Curriculum can be found here:


Sonya Surbek

Education Coordinator, FitzGerald Academy


(416) 864-6060 ext. 77516

Lars Fonteyne

Education Coordinator, FitzGerald Academy


(416) 864-5475

Aaron Calano

Education Coordinator, LInC program


(416) 864-6060 x 77451

Betty Ann Lemieux

Education Coordinator, Department of Medicine


416) 864-6060 x 4176

Julia Chapman

Education Coordinator, Department of Otolaryngology


(416) 864-6060 x 5276

Haleh Rahimi

Education Coordinator, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology


(416) 867-7421

Kathleen Hollamby

Education Coordinator, Department of Paediatrics


(416) 864-6060 x 3163

Jeff Loudermilk

Education Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry


(416) 864-6060 x 6481

Dr. Carol Loffelmann

Department of Anaesthesia


Marvin Lalog

Education Coordinator, Department of Emergency Medicine


(416) 864-6060 x 5094

Michelle Dominey

Education Coordinator, Surgery Department


(416) 864-6060 x 3949

Helen Son

Education Coordinator, Department of Ophthalmology


(416) 867-3708