Awarding of more student spaces at NOSM University (formerly the Northern Ontario School of Medicine) is part of an announcement for Ontario’s six medical schools
More medical students will be allowed to attend NOSM University (formerly the Northern Ontario School of Medicine), Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Tuesday. The province announced the creation of 30 new undergraduate positions, which will be added to NOSM’s usual number of 64 students.
Ford was speaking at a press conference in Brampton when he revealed the creation of more than 450 new positions for Ontario’s six medical schools.
He was joined in the announcement by Health Minister Christine Elliott and Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop.
Ontario Ministry of Health officials said the addition of new positions – including 160 for undergraduate positions and 295 for postgraduate positions – marks the biggest expansion in undergraduate education and postgraduate studies in Ontario for over a decade.
It is also NOSM’s largest-ever expansion, with active campuses at Laurentian University in Sudbury and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
CEO and Dean of NOSM, Dr. Sarita Verma, said this is great news.
“We are thrilled and believe this is exactly what Northern Ontario needs; exactly what I promised to deliver when I arrived here two and a half years ago. And expanding that training in medicine, in medical education, by providing physicians to Northern Ontario will only improve the health of Northern Ontario and we will continue to have a huge impact,” said Verma said.
The normal cohort of 64 undergraduate positions at NOSM is growing to 94 positions, Verma said. On top of that, the usual pool of 62 postgraduate residency positions is augmented by an additional 41 positions for a total of 103.
Verma said most of the credit for the expansion must go to municipal leaders in Northern Ontario. She said the Northwestern Ontario Association of Municipalities (NOMA) and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) have lobbied the province to expand NOSM’s mandate to accept more students.
“They made their voices heard. And, you know, when you look at what happened to other universities – Western, McMaster, the University of Ottawa, they only got postgraduate positions. We had a significant increase, you know, basically the same as the University of Toronto,” she said.
Verma said the additional number of students will put financial pressure on NOSM to step up with more teaching spaces and more faculty.
“We’re going to ramp up as quickly as we can in as many spaces as we can. We’ve been preparing for that for at least two years. And, you know, that’s definitely been going on since I got here two and a half years ago. , expanding the medical school because listen, we want learners and people in Northern Ontario to have access to training at the medical school and at NOSM University,” Verma said.
“Now that we are a university, we are pan-northern. We will always look for opportunities in Thunder Bay and Sudbury, but we already have significant learning happening in Sault Ste Marie, Hearst, Timmins, Sioux Lookout , and Kenora These are areas where, you know, if you train doctors in these areas, they are likely to practice in these areas,” she added.
Verma said increased enrollment will also mean more money will have to come out of the province, but that won’t automatically cover the full cost. Verma said NOSM University will have to do a lot of fundraising in the future for scholarships and endowments.
“So student financial aid is something that we will have to raise money for. And we really hope to approach the people of Northern Ontario to help us raise that money. We would love to make NOSM University as well free as possible, at least to reduce the burden on our students,” Verma said.
“We expect to receive funding, but as I said, we will actually have to secure the funding for the payment of our clinical teachers, which is a very important part of this. And for the development of the site. You know, we’re a very unusual medical university. We’re not based in one location. We’re based in multiple locations on city campuses and many regional campuses. And to grow those campuses, we’re going to need funding. I tell you, we have demands from the government and we look forward to this government continuing to support us as it has done in the past,” Verma explained.
Len Gillis is a reporter with the Local Journalism Initiative at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible with funding from the federal government.