Health of the Homeless Elective


The homeless population faces unique and challenging medical issues which health care providers must be prepared to address. There is currently no component of the Toronto undergraduate medical curriculum (or most Canadian medical curricula) which focuses specifically on the health of the homeless.

ICHA offers undergraduate medical students and clinical clerks the opportunity to develop their knowledge of homeless health and their clinical skills, and to learn about the agencies working with the homeless population in Toronto through the Health of the Homeless elective, a family medicine-based elective which takes place across multiple homeless service sites.

On ICHA’s research page, you will find an assortment of print and internet resources which will broaden your knowledge of the issues surrounding the health of the homeless.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the 3-4 week elective you:

  1. Will be able to describe the major health conditions and common co-morbidities facing homeless clients.
  2. Will be familiar with the work-up and management of common conditions found in homeless patients.
  3. Will be aware of, and sensitive to, the major determinants of the health common to the homeless population.
  4. Will be aware of the types of agencies working with the homeless population in Toronto and the medical and non-medical services they offer.
  5. Will understand a multi-disciplinary, case management-oriented team approach to caring for a homeless client.

Elective Structure

You will be assigned a primary supervisor for the elective.  You will work with your primary supervisor to construct a schedule of clinics and experiences for your elective time.

This is a self-directed elective, structured according to your interests and personal learning objectives.  It is recommended that you schedule a number of your clinics multiple times over the course of your elective, in order to allow yourself to become familiar with their functioning and to give you a sense of continuity of care.  There are some experiences (such as street outreach) you may choose to schedule only once or twice.  It is also recommended that you leave some space open, especially towards the end of your elective, for experiences you may not have realized existed or would be useful before starting the elective.

Please contact ICHA Education Lead, Deborah Pink, at , to receive the Health of the Homeless Elective information package and a list of agencies and physicians currently taking students.