PaCER – Patient and Community Engagement Research

PaCER is an experiential learning certificate program designed for patients and offered through the University of Calgary Continuing Education, currently delivered online. Delivered over 12 months, the program is broken down into three courses based on specific PaCER methodology. Research teams sponsor cohorts of 4-6 students and learning is project based.

The PaCER Training Program teaches citizens with lived experience in healthcare how to conduct research by, for and with patients in their communities. The Program’s primary goal is to incorporate research-informed patient voices into health system research, planning and policy.


1. Incorporate a research-based patient perspective into healthcare and health research

2. Teach learners research skills and how to conduct patient-engaged research

Become a Patient Researcher

Include your voice in health research project priorities, planning and processes.

PaCER graduates work on health research projects in research teams and are supported through Alberta Strategy for Patient Oriented Research by helping them identify opportunities such as:

  • Join patient-oriented health research teams
  • Contribute to patient engaged research with health care improvement organizations and/or patient education opportunities
  • Consult on patient engagement and patient-oriented research aspects for health care teams, decision making bodies, and/or funding panels

Who are PaCERS?

  • Individuals with lived experience in healthcare as patients, caregivers or family members
  • Individuals who are part of a cohort team learning to conduct patient-engaged health research

Engage Patients in 
Health Research

The PaCER Training Program builds research skills in those with lived experience of healthcare, research that is by, for, and with patients and communities that the research is intended to benefit. The program aims to include research- informed patient voices into health system research, planning and policy.

Sponsor a Training Cohort

When you sponsor a cohort in the PaCER Training Program, you:

  • Contribute to continued inclusion of patient perspective in health research & health care
  • Support community involvement and community knowledge translation more inclusive of all patient groups
  • Develop patient capacity and build health research skills
  • Receive a PaCER student authored and academic lead reviewed final research report and data

Researcher Services

PaCER graduates become connected to a network of professionals who work on research projects related to patient-oriented research. PaCER graduates assist health research and community engagement projects and are supported through Alberta Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research in identifying opportunities.

Watch this 3-minute presentation highlight the PaCER approach & methodology.

Founded in 2012 by Dr. Nancy Marlett, Tracy Wasylak and Dr. Deborah Marshall, PaCER is a collaboration between Dr. Maria Santana, the academic director, the University of Calgary, and the Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit.

Learn more about the PaCER program

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Land Acknowledgment

The Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit operates on and acknowledges the lands that are the traditional and ancestral territory of many peoples, presently subject to Treaties 6, 7, and 8. Namely: the Blackfoot Confederacy – Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika – the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Stoney Nakoda, and the Tsuu T’ina Nation and the Métis People of Alberta. This includes the Métis Settlements and the Métis Nation of Alberta. We acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit who have lived in and cared for these lands for generations. We make this acknowledgment as a reaffirmation of our shared commitment towards reconciliation, and as part of AbSPORU’s mandate towards fostering health system transformation.