Addressing Programmatic Challenges through Innovation

By Riya Suvarna (Media & Learning Technologies Assistant, EdTech) on June 13, 2022

Did you know that the UBC Family Medicine Residency Program represents the largest Family Medicine Residency Program in Canada? With training delivered at 20 sites across British Columbia, the program ranges from large urban centers to rural regions in the province. Each with its own unique specialties and processes. Because of their distributed nature, it begs the questions, “How do these sites ensure that they are meeting College of Family Physicians of Canada accreditation standards? How are they addressing academic gaps?”  

In partnership with program leadership and project resources, EdTech created a digital platform that collects curriculum data, tracks the completion process, and generates custom reports full of insight for each of the 20 sites. The end product is referred to as the “Family Medicine Residency Curriculum Mapping App”, and was developed using Oracle Apex. This empowers the Family Medicine Residency Program to monitor activities, continuously improve the curriculum, and align with accreditation standards.  

I had a chance to interview Duncan Hamilton (Junior Instructional Designer, EdTech) and Claire Tiberghien (former Media & Learning Technologies Assistant, EdTech), who played a significant role in creating this app, to share their experiences. 

What was the driving force behind creating Family Medicine Residency Curriculum Mapping App?

Duncan: The Family Medicine Residency Program is distributed across roughly 20 sites. This made creating a Curriculum Map for the program prohibitively difficult. If we go back to the checklist analogy – everyone’s checklist was different, and it made comparing them and identifying gaps impossible! During this project, Family Practice worked diligently to create a map that could be used by all 20 sites. But if each site filled out this map separately, it would be really tedious to compare and contrast. Imagine poring over 20 different Excel files trying to see if anything was missing! Not ideal.

What was it like collaborating with different stakeholders?

Duncan: Two partnerships were instrumental in the success of this project. The first was the support provided to us by the Digital Solution’s Data Management team. They set up an instance of Oracle Apex for us, shared guides and documentation, and were available throughout the project to provide support and assist us through roadblocks. The second was with the Family Practice Program. While our team had the technical expertise to execute the project, we’ve never performed the Curriculum Mapping process ourselves! The close collaboration we had with the client allowed us to build a truly effective solution for the project. We even had the opportunity to pilot the app with one of the sites, which resulted in really valuable feedback.

Why did Oracle Apex become the best choice for the end product? 

Duncan: It was the logical tool of choice for us because of its established infrastructure and use by the Data Management team. Apex is a “low-code” platform – meaning that the foundation of the app can be configured using Apex’s simple drag-and-drop tools. Things such as database implementation, security, authentication, and UI are just a few common app features that Apex makes easy to implement. This seriously expedites the development process, allowing developers to focus on programming the more complex aspects of the app. This project was on a relatively tight timeline, but using Apex, we were able to deliver a final product after just four months of development!

This is a sample of the Family Medicine Residency Curriculum Mapping App.

What were the successes and challenges that you faced while creating the app?

Duncan: I think we had immense success with our collaborative approach to the project. We had a number of different experts on the EdTech team working closely with the respective experts in the Family Medicine Residency Program. This cooperation ensured that the complex aspects of the Curriculum Mapping process were translated effectively into app form. The biggest challenge faced was learning the intricacies of Oracle Apex, the platform used to create the app. It was our team’s first time using the tool for an app of this scale. Apex makes a lot of the development process easier, but at the end of the day, it is still programming, and the learning curve is certainly a hurdle. The Data Management team was incredibly helpful and our team’s co-op student, Claire Tiberghien, came into the project with no previous programming experience, and was an Apex expert by the project’s completion!

Claire: The success, in my opinion, is that the clients are really happy with the application. Despite a fairly complex need, they can design a fairly simple solution for users to use. Also, it addresses the core questions and problems directly. The biggest challenge that everyone will mention is the time crunch. This is because we had to learn Oracle Apex and develop the app within two months! So yeah, I guess it was probably just the speed that you had to learn because of the deadlines.

For both of you, what was your biggest takeaway from this project?

Duncan: Good relationships! They make projects so much more fun, enjoyable, and effective. Whether it was our close collaboration with the Family Practice Program, or the support we received from the Data Management team, these relationships empowered us to develop the best possible solution for the project. 

Claire: From a technical point of view, it’s all the skills I learned with SQL database design, custom CSS, and Oracle Apex. In addition, I learned a lot from the project manager, Maja Klempner. She is a shining example of someone who handles complex problems and is able to make things very clear. Last but not least, Duncan’s leadership and the way he balanced challenging and fun work is also something which is hard to execute at times, so I learned a lot from him.

Feel free to send us an email at if you have any ideas for a project and are interested in collaborating or looking to work with our team!

Special thanks to Duncan Hamilton and Claire Tiberghien for contributing to this post!