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Redesigning Healthcare: The St. Michael’s Hospital Psychology Training Clinic

What happens when two institutions of downtown Toronto join forces?  They conceive a bold new vision of health care — and put that vision into practice.

St. Michael’s Hospital and Ryerson University share a long history, having first collaborated in 2002 when Ryerson students from health and community service disciplines received training at St. Michael’s. More recently, the partnership was expanded to create an innovative training model: in 2011, 14 Ryerson graduate students in the Clinical Psychology program began to offer free mental health assessments and psychotherapy to some of the city’s neediest residents at the St. Michael’s Hospital family practice unit at 80 Bond Street. The project was made possible with financial contributions from the public and private sectors, including $40,000 from Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Community Fund grant.

Unlike other training programs where students work in a mix of hospitals, community-based agencies and private clinics to gain practical experience, the hospital-based clinic setting has been integrated into Ryerson’s curriculum to create a true partnership between the clinical psychology training clinic and the university teaching hospital.

By integrating psychology services into the primary care setting, a unique care and training environment has been created. A physician no longer needs to refer a patient with a range of physical and mental health problems to a variety of places. Rather, the physician can walk the client down the hall to access multi-professions offering psychology, chiropractic, dentistry, dietetics, pharmacy and social work. This transformative model is responsive health care for the 21st century, and it wouldn’t have been made possible without funding provided by Bell Canada.

The innovative partnership between St. Michael’s and Ryerson has led to tangible results — invaluable experience for students in the Psychology Department, and ground-breaking patient treatment and care.