Program News and Notices

Exceptional PBSG Facilitator Award

Last year, we announced the 4 recipients of the inaugural Exceptional PBSG Facilitator Award:

Dr. James Lai, Dr. Lisa Moore, Dr. Paul Pelletier, and Ms. Lee-Anne Quinn. This month, we are featuring a spotlight on Dr. Quinn.

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Lee-Anne Quinn, Nurse Practitioner in Peterborough

I graduated from the nurse practitioner program at Queen's University in 2000 and from the master’s program for nurse practitioners at Athabasca University in 2005. I served our country for 23 years as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). I was awarded the Order of Military Merit in 2007 for my leadership in nurse practitioner development in the CAF. I was awarded the Florence Nightingale Award in 2003 by the Toronto Star for my work with First Nations and Inuit communities in Northern Ontario. I am presently employed by the Peterborough Family Health Team. My PBSG group is a diverse group of nurse practitioners and one physician. We all bring a different expertise to the table during our meetings. Our group has survived COVID-19 by continuing meetings via Zoom. Everyone has adapted nicely. We love meeting face to face as well. We are always learning from each other. Everyone is given the respect to speak and to be listened to. I have the best PBSG group in the country. We enjoy the challenges of the module subjects and individual cases. We are very thankful for the amazing work to assist us in a perpetual learning environment.

Module Editor Eleanor Colledge

I am a family doctor and completed my training and residency in Toronto. After graduating, I spent time working overseas and then locuming in Toronto and northern Ontario before joining an academic family health team in Toronto. I currently split my time between caring for my practice, teaching residents and medical students, and supporting faculty development at our site and within our department.

My first exposure to FMPE was during one of my locums working in Sioux Lookout where I was invited to join one of their monthly meetings. Sitting in a cozy living room with food and drink on offer and lively conversation about the topic at hand I thought—wow—this is my kind of learning!

Not long after I was invited to participate in a roundtable, and I went on from this to become an author. For many years I have loved the challenge of digging into a clinical topic and working with a passionate group of colleagues on creating a module that we hope is engaging, based in evidence, and practical, and promotes rich discussion among members. I recently became an editor, and am learning and enjoying this new role, thanks in large part to the wonderful mentorship of the FMPE Editor group.


Please contact Heather Haywood.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Dates are finalized based on Trainer and Participant availability and confirmation of attendance. A minimum registration number is required to proceed with a workshop. To avoid disappointment, book early!


Congratulations to the recipients of the inaugural Exceptional PBSG Facilitator Award:

Dr. James Lai, Dr. Lisa Moore, Dr. Paul Pelletier, and Ms. Lee-Anne Quinn. We will be showcasing each of the recipients every mailout.

Paul Pelletier, Family Physician in Quebec

I work at the community health center, CLSC des Faubourgs. It is a teaching clinic affiliated with the Université de Montréal located in the city center. I did my residency there and have been practicing there for over 20 years. Honestly, it is the PBSG group that is exceptional and not the facilitator. Our group is made up of colleagues and doctors working in different fields of practice: office, hospitalization, addiction, mental health, youth clinic, homelessness, sexual health, women's health, home care, palliative care, geriatrics and more. Cumulating together over 300 years of experience this group is made up of friends and colleagues who are competent, curious, respectful, nuanced but never dull. Our meetings take place once a month and are accompanied by a group dinner, whether at the clinic or at each other's homes (when confinement allows).

Lisa Moore, Family Physician in Ontario

1. Please tell us about yourself and your practice:

I am a McMaster grad from 1989. I spent 10 years as an academic family physician at U of O, then moved to community-based family medicine in an FHT/ FHO that I started in 2022.

2. Please tell us about your PBSG group:

Our PBSG group started in 1996 with me attending a facilitator's weekend breastfeeding my 6-week-old. And we have never missed a month in 25 years! We’ve added a couple and lost a couple, but have had 25 years of friendship, support, learning, and growth together.

3. Please tell us what you enjoy about being a facilitator:

I love being a facilitator with interesting, learned, bright doctors who are real, humble, and love learning from each other. We also share all of our life experiences.


James Lai, Family Physician in British Columbia –

1. Please tell us about yourself and your practice:

I have practiced family medicine in Vancouver since 1986, first in a large clinic with FPs and specialists until 2003 then in a small group practice to date. Throughout my career, I’ve strived to be engaged in full-service practice in my urban setting including hospital work and obstetrics. I also enjoy teaching medical students and residents as well as participating in initiatives with my local medical associations to improve primary care.

I am an avid runner which helps me burn up the calories I get from regularly eating out at favorite local restaurants (re-discovered after the pandemic shutdowns) with my wonderful wife Josephine who has provided me unwavering support over the last 36 years and counting. I have 2 grown children that I am very proud of: my son Joshua who is a practicing neurologist and my daughter Jocelyn who is a Juilliard-trained pianist working on her doctorate in piano performance.

2. Please tell us about your PBSG group:

My current PBSG group has 6 members including myself. All of us are FPs engaged in full-time practice. We meet twice a month in the morning for an hour before we start our offices. We switched from meeting at my office to meeting on Zoom since the pandemic started last year. Although we miss seeing each other in person, we’ve been able to maintain the same comfort level and ability to learn as we work through the modules. All of us look forward to our meetings because we are able to both challenge and support each other with our practices in a safe and collegial setting that is one of the hallmarks of the PBSG program.

3. Please tell us what you enjoy about being a facilitator:

I joined PBSG in 1996 and consider it one of the best decisions I’ve made in my medical career. My role as a facilitator has enabled me to effectively and efficiently tackle my own practice gaps while challenging my group members to do the same. But what I enjoy and value most is the precious relationships we’ve built together through the years, as colleagues, mentors, and friends. I’ve also had the privilege of serving as a facilitator trainer for the PBSG program since 2007. Meeting and working with the passionate PBSG Program Team and enthusiastic trainees from across Canada continue to be highlights of my association with the program.


The research program has proposed a model of how “change talk” is generated in small learning group (PBSG) settings, and how those decisions for change diffuse into the clinical environment. This model is featured in the November module Evidence-Based Learning and Practice and is distilled from the analysis of field notes and observations of PBSG groups for the forthcoming 2022 publication “Change talk” in small group learning communities – an ethnographic study.

Exceptional Facilitator Award

We had an outstanding number of submissions for the first annual Exceptional Facilitator Award: 212 facilitators were nominated, and 67 were nominated by multiple group members. You will see the winners announced in subsequent newsletters. An analysis of the nominations revealed what our PBSG members value most in their facilitators.

  • The most frequently regarded facilitator qualities were their organizational skills and ability to guide discussion.
  • Members also appreciate their facilitator’s caring attitude, enthusiasm, and dedication for keeping the group together.
  • It is popular when food and fun are involved in meetings too!

Check out our series of Facilitation Pearls on Members Online!

Here is an example from last month:

Encouraging Curiosity

Encourage a spirit of curiosity and open-mindedness in your group interactions. Acknowledge there is rarely a single way of doing things in primary care practice.

Why do you think that?
How does my plan for my practice look different from yours?
What can I learn from the way you do things? 

Kate Lafferty, Assistant Director of Module Development

I am a family doctor and completed my training in Ottawa and Toronto. After finishing residency, I did locums in various locales in Ontario and then Newfoundland. During one of my longer locums in my hometown of Hamilton, I was invited to be a roundtable participant for FMPE. I felt so lucky to work with such a bright and passionate group of people, and the feeling has not changed. I have not turned away an opportunity to challenge myself since. Not only in learning more about clinical topics myself but helping develop modules that encourage greater understanding and insights for colleagues across the country.

My life then brought me out to Newfoundland, and as time has passed my role in life has evolved. I now have 13-year-old twins, and I have worked many years in family medicine and in many settings. I have expanded my role and now work with the palliative care team here in Corner Brook. My work with the FMPE has changed over time too. Starting as a roundtable participant, I then started authoring modules and took the step to editor a few years ago. About a year ago I was invited to work more closely with the team in module development.

Years ago, I set a goal (a hope) of working with a forward-thinking group with people across the country. Something that would connect me to colleagues across the country who had a passion to challenge themselves, think creatively, give space for growth and learning, and help others do the same. Funny thing, a few weeks ago it hit me. Without realizing it at the time, the locum for Dr. Lois MacGibbon early in my career gave me an opportunity to grow into a position just like that.

We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life—William Osler
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn—Benjamin Franklin

Haider Saeed, Associate Director of Module Development

I am a family doctor in a group practice affiliated with the Hamilton Family Health Team in Hamilton, Ontario. I also work part-time with the Shelter Health Network, which serves local people who are homeless or underhoused.

I have always had an interest in community development and urban health—so much so that I almost became an urban planner. However, I ended up in a program in community health and epidemiology, and then medicine. It was my interest in interpreting data and helping others make data-based decisions that led me to become involved with the FMPE.

I started as a group member in 2007 and participated in my first roundtable in 2010. I was the Foundation’s second choice—their first choice that day was on vacation! I authored my first module in 2013, and I learned more about tinnitus during that process than I ever thought possible. But that didn’t deter me. I began editing modules in 2017 (who would pass up the opportunity to work directly with editors Jacqui Wakefield and Liz Shaw?). And in 2021, I was promoted to the role of Associate Director of Module Development. I guess they trust me!


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Dr. John N. Premi, the family physician who started the Practice-Based Small Group Learning Program, died on February 19, 2021. For those of you who did not have the privilege of knowing John personally, we want to share this brief tribute.

In the late 1980s, John had an exciting vision of an innovative approach to the continuing education of family doctors through the formation of peer learning groups in their own communities. Despite early setbacks and innumerable challenges (including many skeptics and the lack of funding), John’s enthusiasm and energy for this novel approach did not wane.

He persuaded a handful of family doctors to volunteer their time and creativity to develop the evidence-based materials to support discussions of real patient cases and then to train facilitators for the new groups. Known as “The Tuesday Afternoon Group”, these family docs worked with John—reading and writing tirelessly— as PBSG evolved in the early years. John used his favourite Latin expression, Faciendo discimus (we learn by doing) to guide our reflections and struggles to find ways to improve the program. In the windowless basement conference room of a local motel, new ideas and vigorous debates abounded – along with doses of good humor and laughter often triggered by John!

The first pilot of the Practice-Based Small Group Learning Program began in 1992, with the endorsement of the Ontario College of Family Physicians. The initial years were very successful, and the College of Family Physicians encouraged us to “go national”. Despite taxing time and resources to the limit, the PBSG Learning Program “took the plunge” and was the first accredited Mainpro-C® program of the College. John’s influence was so profound that many of the early members referred to PBSGs as “the Premi Groups”.

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The rapid expansion of the Program took its toll on the family physician volunteers, some of whom were exhausted by the pace and demands. Undaunted, John worked tirelessly to find human and financial resources to keep the Program from becoming dependent on either industry or the University. This led to the formation of the non-profit Foundation for Medical Practice Education in 1997. John Premi continued at the helm until his retirement in 2002, at which point PBSG was well established. The program has continued to flourish, and by the fall of 2020 served over 6000 members across Canada.

We express our gratitude for John’s leadership and the legacy that he has left all of us involved with the PBSG Learning Program!


Tom   heather

Retirement: Dr. Tom Elmslie

After many very successful years at the helm of the Foundation and the PBSG Learning Program, Dr. Tom Elmslie is retiring from his role as Executive Director. During the tenure of this thoughtful Ottawa family physician, the PBSG program has doubled in size to over 6000 members across Canada! In 2012 PBSG received the CPD Program Award from the College of Family Physicians “for providing an exceptional learning experience to Family Physicians.” Tom himself was recognize in 2009 with the CFPC’s Ian McWhinney Family Medicine Education Award. Everyone at the FMPE wishes him well and extends sincere thanks for all his contributions.

New Executive Director Dr. Heather Armson

FMPE welcomes Dr. Heather Armson in her new role as Executive Director. Dr. Armson is a Calgary family physician who has been involved in the PBSG program for many years. She started as a facilitator over 25 years ago and currently facilitates two PBSG groups. She was responsible for facilitator training and was also director of the PBSG program for a number of years. More recently, she has been the director of research for the program. She anticipates continuing the excellent work of the Foundation while exploring opportunities for innovation to enhance the implementation of new knowledge into clinical practice.

Practice Reflection Tool (PRT) Update

Following a pilot with PBSG groups in fall 2020, an improved version of the PRT was launched in January. The PRT is shorter overall and the evidence-based changes are intended to help focus the group discussion on commitment to change.

Fall Survey Results

According to a survey of half of the PBSG membership, the vast majority of groups have continued learning together and supporting one another through virtual meetings. Some tips that members have shared include scheduling meetings at the same time each month, allowing time at the beginning of the meeting for an informal catch-up, and using video.