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Because your voice matters.

Member, BC SUPPORT Unit Patient Council

Posted • Last updated


Open to Provincial Region, Patient partners across the province

Last updated

Would you like to be part of a ground-breaking, culture-shifting initiative intended to ensure health research is done in partnership with patients and focuses on priorities that matter to patients? The BC SUPPORT Unit is looking to fill 4-6 vacant seats on their existing Patient Council. As a member of the Council, your opportunities are varied and many – everything from helping to shape policy to participating at workshops and planning meetings or on review panels. The SUPPORT Unit is committed to creating an inclusive, safe environment for people to contribute meaningfully and actively by providing orientation, training and on-going support.

Open to: Patient partners across the province

Lead Organization or Department



To engage with BC SUPPORT Unit personnel on specific issues and projects that arise from Unit operations. Issues may be brought to the Council as a whole at regularly scheduled meetings, or patients may be recruited from the Council on an ad hoc basis as needs arise (e.g. one-off engagements; planning/working groups). Note: Patient Council members will not be participating in or doing research but, rather, working with the BC SUPPORT Unit operations team to support the implementation of high quality patient-oriented research.

Level of Engagement

Staff of the SUPPORT Unit will clearly define the level of engagement within the context of each engagement opportunity. Some roles will be at the level of consult on the spectrum of engagement. The promise to you is that the research partner will listen to and acknowledge your ideas and concerns, and provide feedback on how your input affected the decision. Some roles will be at the level of involve on the spectrum of engagement. The promise to you is that the research partner partner will involve patients in planning and design phases to ensure ideas or concerns are considered and reflected in alternatives and recommendations. Some roles will be at the level of collaborate on the spectrum of engagement. The promise to you is that the research partner will work together with you to formulate solutions and incorporate your advice and recommendations into the decisions to the maximum extent possible. Example: Help to decide on a new policy.


  • Candidates should have personal experience of the health care system, either as a patient or an informal caregiver (e.g. family member or friend)
  • Previous experience with research in general or health research specifically, is an asset but not required.
  • The Council will include members from each region of the province: North, Fraser, Interior, Island and Vancouver.
  • The Unit will strive for a broad demographic balance, including but not limited to age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and culture. We would like to include at least one Indigenous person.
  • Candidates must have access to a computer or other device connected to the internet, preferably with a web camera.
  • Email is also necessary.
  • The ability to use word processing software to compose, edit and review documents is an asset.
  • Previously attended a PVN orientation session and completed the Volunteer Agreement.
If you have a strong interest in this work but have not yet completed a PVN orientation and volunteer agreement, are unsure if your experience is a good fit or feel another format of engagement would work better with your availability, please contact the engagement leader directly.


  • Vacancies: 4-6
  • An in-person orientation will be held in late June in Vancouver. We are currently looking at June 22 and 23 or June 29 and 30 (exact date and location TBD). At this meeting, Council members will have an opportunity to visit the SUPPORT Unit offices and meet the existing Council members and the Unit’s operations team.
  • Typically the Council will meet monthly for one and one-half hours, using videoconferencing. Help with how to use videoconferencing is provided when needed. The group does not meet in July, August or December. Meetings are generally recorded (with everyone’s permission), and recordings are made available so people can review what was discussed at the meetings if they were unable to attend.
  • Meetings will be scheduled at times that are convenient for Council members, including non-regular business hours if necessary.
  • Meetings pertaining to any of the other working or ad hoc groups will be arranged as needed and will take into consideration the patients’ schedules and availability.
  • Other meetings may be scheduled as required, depending on whether the patient partner decides to be involved beyond the regular monthly meetings. Examples: a planning/working group; participation in a workshop; speaking at an event; participating on an interview panel.
  • Some meetings are in person with the option to attend via videoconferencing; most will be by videoconference.
  • Commitment: 1 year term, with the possibility of extending.


All out-of-pocket expenses incurred while doing the work of the BC SUPPORT Unit Patient Council – e.g. travel – will be reimbursed according to the travel policies of the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN). Council members will have their travel costs paid to attend the Unit’s annual conference (October 4) and networking day (October 5), to be held in Vancouver at which they will have another opportunity to meet in person.


  • Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR) is about ensuring that the right patient receives the right intervention at the right time. Evidence shows that this does not happen often enough. It is believed that the engagement of knowledge users – including patients, health care providers and health system decision-makers – to determine research priorities and to design and conduct research holds promise for addressing this challenge.
  • The 15-member BC SUPPORT Unit Patient Council was formed in June 2017. Several seats will become vacant as of June 2018. You can read about our Current Council members here.
  • Those interested in this opportunity may wish to view the webinar entitled Who, me? Yes, you! Becoming a Patient Partner in Health Research, paying particular attention to the segment about governance at approximately 8 minutes, 55 seconds and the presentation by one of our patient partners at the 10 minute, 27 second mark.
  • The BC SUPPORT Unit is jointly funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the BC Ministry of Health.
  • The goals of the BC SUPPORT Unit are:
    • To build capacity to conduct and implement high quality patient-oriented research in all regions of the province
    • To increase the quality and impact of patient-oriented research across BC
    • To ensure ongoing support for patient-oriented research in all regions of the province

Health Care Partner Contact Information

Karen Estrin
Engagement Leader, Patient and Public Engagement | Lower Mainland & Sunshine Coast

Research Partner Contact Information:

Colleen McGavin
Patient Engagement Lead, BC SUPPORT Unit
Tel: 250-8890-2691 (in Victoria)


From Our Community

Cherie Mercer

Patient Partner, New Aiyansh

Cherie Mercer

I have learned so much about innovation and capacity building by being part of PVN. I signed up to build my leadership skills, however, I experience benefits for myself, my community and Indigenous peoples throughout the province. I understand more about the complexities and opportunities required to improve health care.