Advance Social Accountability

Lake shore

To embed social accountability throughout NOSM University with a focus on measurable, transformative, and sustainable change in health-care systems for Northern Ontario. 

Social accountability defines NOSM University. Through the value of social accountability, NOSM University graduates, faculty, learners and staff lead health-system transformation in Northern Ontario. 

The social accountability movement is a catalyst in transforming health professions education, which is defined by the idea that education, research, and service activities should be directed towards addressing the priority health concerns of the communities they serve, both locally and globally. In response to the global health equity crisis, socially accountable health professions education provides an upstream policy strategy that is shifting the conversation about the value of programs that advance the health and wellbeing of the people and communities they serve.

NOSM University was built with a mandate to advance social accountability in every aspect of what we do. The University was the recipient of the Charles Boelen International Social Accountability Award from the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada in 2019 and has also received the prestigious ASPIRE award, which recognizes international excellence in social accountability and medical education.

Importantly, NOSM University is graduating physicians and allied health professionals who are leaders in transforming health-care systems and improving population health outcomes. Many alumni are now teaching and researching at NOSM University. They continue to lead advocacy and community engagement that is grounded in the community and renew community relationships and outreach.

A significant advancement under this strategic direction is the establishment of NOSM University’s Centre for Social Accountability (CFSA), launched in June 2021. It is a first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary centre dedicated to the improvement of health and wellness in Northern Ontario. The Centre was built upon four pillars—community impact; education and capacity-building; research and innovation; and, policy, leadership and advocacy—to ensure an integrated, sustainable approach to addressing priority health needs and population health outcomes both inside and outside of the medical system.

NOSM University appointed the inaugural CFSA Director, Dr. Erin Cameron, and helped to assemble an experienced leadership team to manage the start-up phase of the Centre. Their work included identifying strategic priorities, developing key partnerships, and establishing the Centre’s structure and governance. 

The CFSA has also become home to a new international steering committee, the International Social Accountability and Accreditation Steering Committee (ISAASC). The committee will promote the integration of social accountability into medical school accreditation standards on a global scale. 

Dr. Joseph LeBlanc is NOSM University’s Associate Dean, Equity and Inclusion, a portfolio with clearly embedded social accountability intersections. 

For Dr. LeBlanc, the development and board approval of a formal equity strategy is a major accomplishment. The strategy “directs the President, Vice Chancellor, Dean and CEO to embed, act and report back on specific anti-racism and anti-discrimination actions that reflect the values of equity, diversity and inclusiveness to create an inclusive environment, particularly for First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, but also for Black and other People of Color, and for those who face other forms of discrimination and marginalization, such as Francophones, LGBTQS2+ and persons with disabilities, amongst others.” 

The equity strategy offers concrete directions for the University to adopt at the recruitment and admissions stage, changes and updates to the MD curriculum, and updates to the recruitment, development, advancement and wellness of faculty and staff. 

As a medical university founded with a social accountability mandate, we challenge ourselves to make a difference and lead the transformation of our health-system in Northern Ontario. 

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