CanMEDS Health Advocate
CanMEDS-FM Health Advocate Competencies


CanMEDS-FM Health Advocate Competencies


As health advocates, family physicians responsibly use their expertise and influence to advance the health and well-being of individual patients, communities, and populations.


Family physicians recognize their duty and ability to improve the overall health of their patients and the society they serve. Family physicians identify advocacy activities as important for the individual patient, for populations of patients and for communities. Individual patients need their family physician to assist them in health promotion and enhancement navigating the healthcare system and accessing the appropriate health resources in a timely manner. Communities and societies need family physicians’ special expertise to identify and collaboratively address broad health issues and the determinants of health. At this level, health advocacy involves efforts to change specific practices or policies on behalf of those served. Framed in this multi-level way, health advocacy is an essential and fundamental component of health promotion. Health advocacy is appropriately expressed both by the actions of individual family physicians and through collective actions with other health professionals in influencing population health and public policy.

Components of the Health Advocate Role

Key Competencies and Enabling Competencies

Family physicians are able to&hellip

1. Respond to individual patient health needs and issues as part of patient care

1.1 Identify the health needs of an individual patient

1.2 Advocate for individual patients around relevant health matters

1.3 Implement health promotion and disease prevention policies and interventions for individual patients and the patient population served

2. Respond to the health needs of the communities that they serve

2.1 Describe the practice communities that they serve

2.2 Identify opportunities for advocacy, health promotion and disease prevention in the communities that they serve, and respond appropriately

2.3 Appreciate the possibility of competing interests between the communities served and other populations

3. Identify the determinants of health within their communities

3.1 Identify the determinants of health within their communities, including barriers to accessing care and resources

3.2 Identify vulnerable or marginalized populations and respond as needed

4. Promote the health of individual patients, communities and populations

4.1 Describe approaches to implementing changes in determinants of health of the population served

4.2 Describe how public policy, healthcare delivery and healthcare financing impact access to care and the health of the population served

4.3 Identify points of influence in the healthcare system and its structure

4.4 Describe the ethical and professional issues inherent in health advocacy, including altruism, social justice, autonomy, integrity and idealism

4.5 Appreciate the possibility of conflict inherent in their role as a health advocate for a patient or community with that of manager or gatekeeper

4.6 Describe the role of the medical profession in advocating collectively for health and patient safety