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L'Ordre des chimistes du Quebec and Education.

L'Ordre des chimstes du Quebec has invested a great deal in the areas of education and teaching

Education within society consists of three diverse components: teaching, research and technology. It is important that future generations are educated for social as well as economic reasons. One simply has to analyze countries like the United States, the Scandinavian countries, Canada, as well as Quebec since the "Quiet Revolution", to determine the effects of a growth in education which has surpassed the economic growth of these countries.

The creation of a professional society in Quebec, whose primary goal is public protection, is based on the quality of professional services underlying intensive training in leading scientific and technological developments. In order to satisfy this demand for public protection, legislators have retained a privileged role for corporations, in the Professional Code, in the areas of training and teaching. L'Ordre des chimistes du Quebec is mandated to develop the teaching of chemistry in Quebec.

"L'Ordre", therefore, has the duty to intervene in education in Quebec not only at the university level, in order to render programs acceptable, but also at other levels of development where chemistry is taught.

Has "l'Ordre" achieved its goal and become renowned in educational and teaching matters? From a statutory point of view, "l'Ordre" through the Credentials Committee, the Professional Development Committee and the Accreditation Committee, has succeeded in providing quality education and training programs since its inception.

The activities of the Credentials Committee are directly related to the teaching provided and to the training received. The members of this committee submit recommendations regarding the evaluation of the training of candidates, the study of programs leading to diplomas in chemistry, biochemistry and food science and technology (chemistry outline) and the development of admission examinations.

The experience which allows all professionals to acquire the freedom necessary in order to obtain the right to practice also corresponds to a certain type of education and this is administered by the "Ordre" through the Professional Development Committee. This activity, which normally follows acquisition of the diploma, constitutes initiation into professional life. Taking into account the diversity of professional chemistry and the importance of this aspect of training for public protection, "l'Ordre" proposes to set up a more extensive structure for the follow-up and evaluation of the training of future chemists.

The rapid evolution of disciplines

Chemistry and biochemistry are rapidly evolving disciplines and are having an effect, ipso facto, on the practice of the profession. This provides the basis for the fact that, through the Accreditation Committee, the "Ordre" must verify if its members have maintained their competence and if their practice of the profession is satisfactory. "L'Ordre" can, in cases, require that a member complete the lack of training at a university or do a placement at an industry in order to maintain the right to exercise the profession.

Other than the statutory implications from the chemistry teaching and training points of view, the "Ordre" is strongly involved in teaching at all levels and in various domains of chemistry such as hazardous materials management, high-performance liquid chromatography, biological and medical laboratory safety and soon, in environmental issues and organic materials nomenclature. It is this aspect of continuing education and teaching that has enabled the "Ordre" to provide benefits to the general public through the competence of its members. As a result, this has made the public aware of the importance of chemistry in society.

As a result of a survey on occupational health and safety training in university, college and high school laboratories, "l'Ordre" noted significant shortcomings and mandated itself to correct the situation by producing, in 1982, a guide on laboratory safety capable of being used for the purposes of teaching.

"L'Ordre" has also developed a course on occupational health and safety dealing specifically with the manipulation of dangerous substances for chemists and other professionals who handle potentially harmful substances. This contribution of the "Ordre" to teaching and professional development, which is very important in the field of chemistry, has led a large number of universities to add this course to its chemistry curriculum. Such courses are fully justified and accredited by "l'Ordre".

The guide on laboratory safety was well received and definitely responded to a need, since not only has it been reprinted and revised, an English version was also produced in collaboration with The Chemical Institute of Canada. This aspect of training is so important that minimal training in occupational health and safety and in WHMIS management may eventually be a requirement for membership eligibility with "l'Ordre".

In order to respond to the needs of its members, "l'Ordre" has also developed a course on high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), an analytical technique used extensively for the last 10 years. This technical education has been very appropriate for graduates for a number of years and also provides practical experience.

Furthermore, the various symposia organized by "l'Ordre" on quality control, laboratory waste management, WHMIS and chemical computing provide continuing education on subjects often not covered by university education.

The preparation and presentation of certain scientific reports are another activity of "l'Ordre" for the better development of chemistry education. The reports of "l'Ordre" on university funding is aimed essentially at providing chemistry and biochemistry departments of Quebec universities with adequate funding to acquire the equipment and apparatus necessary to provide education and training that is in line with actual technologies.

The 1988 report of "l'Ordre" on the Science and Technology Summit was aimed at making the following declarations: that Quebec is behind in the fields of science and technology; that the number of university graduates in science is much smaller than the number of graduates from our major competition, commerce; and that the level of excellence must be increased for higher education.

In order to address these issues, "l'Ordre" presented the following recommendations in its report in order to facilitate science teaching and to produce high level scientists. The recommendations of "L'Ordre des chimistes du Quebec" at the time of the Summit are to:

* Double the number of chemistry and biochemistry professors at the university level such that the level of performance is at least equal to that of Ontario;

* Modernize biochemistry and chemistry equipment in Quebec university laboratories and keep this equipment up to date; and computerize all experimental approaches;

* Plan the development of chemistry and biochemistry, for human resources as well as material resources, in such as way as to reach critical mass and thus guarantee optimum results in professional development and scientific research, keeping in mind the university/company synergy desired by government.

* Provide universities with the means to respond rapidly to new needs, whether it means human resources, equipment or fixed assets.

The implementation of these recommendations, can:

* attract excellent students into a field whose technological importance is recognized by everyone;

* provide manpower highly specialized in research and development in leading sectors of technology;

* enable Quebec to promote its foreign agreements, alliances and investments, all in strong support of its industries and universities;

* allow Quebec universities to regain their high ranking position in chemistry and biochemistry on the Canadian and international scenes and play its role fully in economic and social development in Quebec.

The report of "l'Ordre" on patents, which deals specifically with the pharmaceutical industry, delivers a similar message: an increase in pharmaceutical research in Quebec and the development of a high-calibre expertise which would support an increase in university training and research in that sector where Quebec has already been generally thought of as a leader. The amendment of the law on patents has led recently to major investigations by the pharmaceutical industry in the Montreal area.

There are numerous reports and studies in which "l'Ordre" has emphasized, particularly the teaching of chemistry, since chemistry is very much the driving force of the economy regarding health. environment, energy, agriculture, food, etc.

The involvement of "l'Ordre" in science fairs, in chemistry competitions at the college level, at the annual chemistry symposium for Bachelor of Science students at the Universite de Sherbrooke reflects another way to promote an interest in science and the development of chemistry teaching.

Annual meeting

L'Ordre des chimistes du Quebec organizes an annual meeting for department heads of university programs leading to membership in "l'Ordre". The purpose of this meeting is to solicit pertinent information on the evolution of university programs and to communicate the recommendations of "l'Ordre".

The importance of quality control both in chemistry and biochemistry, the practical application of WHMIS and the need for competence regarding environmental issues has led "l'Ordre" to respond to these various aspects of professional chemistry by suggesting their inclusion within programs. The eventuality of a certain form of accreditation for programs has already been brought up during these meetings.

The primary objective is inevitably the quality of training, for chemists in Quebec are professionals with the exclusive right to exercise their profession, and therefore "l'Ordre" must be very strict in order to ensure public protection.

"L'Ordre" has always followed chemistry teaching at various levels closely and has expressed concern about the problem of linkage from one level to the next. In 1990, "l'Ordre" decided to study first-year chemistry and biochemistry students at all Quebec universities in order to determine the perception of students on the chemistry teaching they had received previously compared to that received at university.

"L'Ordre" wanted to become more familiar with the situation, knowing that programs at secondary schools as well as the college level were being studied for the purposes of revision. The questionnaire for this survey, developed and analyzed by specialists in the field, was completed by 342 francophone and anglophone students.

This questionnaire was aimed at determining the perception of students with respect to the quality of teaching, the importance of laboratory safety, educational training and support, the link between the various levels of education and also the link between training and the job market. The report for this survey has been produced and "l'Ordre" anticipates publicizing it at a public consultation, regarding 25 years of CEGEP, that Lucienne Robillard, minister of higher education and science, is supposedly planning.

"L'Ordre" will, as a result, produce a report to publicize its concerns and this report will be supported by the report on the survey which was recently carried out. It hopes to be heard by the Parliamentary Committee, since it has the pertinent facts for this project from the minister. "L'Ordre" has already made known to the minister its intentions in this regard.

"L'Ordre" has invested a great deal in education and teaching during the last 15 years. It has formed committees to follow the development of chemistry teaching in Quebec. The Credentials and Professional Development committees are standing committees whose work is as indispensable for maintaining the quality of training, as it is for the keeping qualifications up to date, within the context of continuing education.

"L'Ordre" is proud of its involvement in education, expects to continue in this regard and believes strongly that future generations must experience quality teaching and training: in a word: education.

Antoine Fournier president, L'Ordre des chimistes du Quebec.
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Title Annotation:professional organization in Quebec involved in developing the chemistry curriculum in universities
Author:Fournier, Antoine
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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