AFMC Response to the Opioid Crisis

AFMC Response to the Opioid Crisis

The surge of overdoses and opioid-related deaths in Canada is a national public health crisis. The Government of Canada has funded the AFMC, in partnership with Canada’s 17 medical schools, to create a national, bilingual, comprehensive, and competency-based curriculum for undergraduate medical students in pain management and substance use. The evidence-based training aims to fill gaps in undergraduate educational programs across Canada, including the diagnosis, treatment, and management of pain. The AFMC will also develop a repository of questions and oral practical structured clinical examinations, which will be included in the national licensing examinations of physicians in Canada.
AFMC Response to the Opioid Crisis
Video from Dr. Lisa Graves, Project Lead

AFMC Response to the Opioid Crisis

Learning modules for medical students
The Curriculum

Learning modules for medical students

The curriculum is comprised of 10 modules and an introduction module about the Canadian opioid crisis and will addresses gaps in current undergraduate medical education curriculum.

These modules will train future physicians to:

  • work with patients to manage pain
  • openly communicate the possible side effects of opioids
  • address the care of persons living with opioid use disorder
  • assess the patient’s profile and adjust the prescription accordingly
  • support patients to safely store and dispose of opioids

Introduction Module

  1. The Public Health Perspective
  2. Core Concepts in Pain
  3. Core Concepts in the Management of Chronic Pain
  4. Pathophysiology of pain and Pharmacology of Opioids
  5. Opioid Prescribing
  1. Opioid Stewardship in Palliative Care
  2. Safe Storage and Proper Disposal of Opioids
  3. Recognizing Opioid Use Disorder
  4. Management of Opioid Use Disorder
  5. Cultural Considerations, Legalities, and Enhancing Competence
Modules for medical students
Video from Julien Lapierre, Medical Student

Modules for medical students

How do I access the curriculum?

How do I access the curriculum?

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Who are our contributors


AFMC would like to recognize the contributors that made this project possible.​

View the list of contributors​

Conflict of interest​

Why this matters
Video from Camille Fauteux, Patient Collaborator

Why this matters

There have been more than 16,000 apparent opioid-related deaths since 2016. Approximately 11 lives are lost each day because of opioid overdoses.
Faculty Development Tool

Faculty Development Tool

This faculty development tool presents an opportunity to approach the opioid crisis at the educational level, to further educate stakeholders including faculty, preceptors, residents, and medical students about both opioids, their appropriate use and response to misuse. The tool provides a background on the AFMC Response to the Opioid Crisis Curriculum, describes 7 areas of focus, and provides tips to maximize the feedback to students and other learners.

Pearls for teachers supervising medical students and residents ​

CFPC Faculty Development Tool​

RCPSC Faculty Development Tool​

Faculty Development Podcast



    Provided high level input into the overall progress and outcomes of the project.
    Provided content consultation and advice into the curriculum; Develops a plan of integration into the UGME programs of their respective organizations/university.
    Provided advice towards the implementation of the curriculum.

In addition to these committees, the Medical Council of Canada established the MCQ Assessment Development Committee and OSCE Assessment Development Committee which were responsible for developing a bank of MCQ’s and OSCE’s relevant to the curriculum for randomized inclusion on the MCC Qualifying Examinations I & II.

Depending on the existing curriculum at a faculty of medicine, these modules may be added to enhance learning and understanding.

The modules were created for undergraduate medical students. However, they are available to stakeholders, other health care providers and community members.

What's next?
AFMC Response to Opioid Crisis

What's next?

The Government of Canada has extended its funding to include the development of a national, bilingual, comprehensive, and competency-based curriculum for post-graduate medical education (PGME) and continuing professional development (CPD). This project will build on the concepts and content of the undergraduate curriculum as well as draw on subject matter experts and have input from those with lived experiences. This new curriculum will be launched in early 2023.

Project Team

Dr. Lisa Graves, Project Lead

Fran Kirby, Director, Member Services

Robert Van Hoorn, Project Manager

Joyce Katshunga, Project Coordinator

Nimra Lalani, Project Assistant