STRATEGIC DIRECTION 1:
Transform Health Human Resource Planning
To link health human resources (HHR) to Northern Ontario’s needs (Francophone, Indigenous, rural, and urban) with a focus on specialist and subspecialist physician training.
NOSM University’s transformative approach to the planning and delivery of workforce supply eliminates the gaps in Northern Ontario health human resources.
This strategic direction is one of which every portfolio in the NOSM University owns a piece. Transforming the way that learners are recruited, trained, and retained to meet the health-care needs of Northern Ontario is complex, and one of the University’s core mandates.
Dr. Sarah Newbery is the Associate Dean of the Physician Workforce Strategy and the only physician in this kind of job in Canada. In this multifaceted role, she works with faculty, communities and other partner organizations to support strategic initiatives to bolster the physician workforce in Northern Ontario.
Since the launch of the Strategic Plan, Dr. Newbery points to a wide array of accomplishments, not the least of which is the development of the Rural Generalist Pathway. The goal of this university-wide initiative is to educate and support rurally-interested learners in order to build a robust rural generalist workforce, and thereby help to fill gaps in health-care services across the North.
Dr. Newbery also underscores the importance of collecting increasingly clear data around the needs of Northern communities, and working alongside the Ministry of Health to collaboratively solve how to address those needs. As of June 2022, we know that in Northern Ontario, communities are actively recruiting more than 350 physicians, more than 150 of whom are specialists, and more than 200 of whom are family doctors. These numbers do not reflect anticipated retirements. To help address these gaps, NOSM University has worked with communities and Health Force Ontario to develop community profiles, and has hosted two virtual job fairs and community exploration conferences to help learners see a future for themselves in Northern Ontario.
Other key areas of focus for the Office of Physician Workforce Strategy moving forward include helping to make sure that MD students have a rewarding and positive experience during rural electives and other placements and working to help new physicians transition comfortably and successfully into practice.
Also critical to NOSM University’s ongoing success in transforming health human resource planning is the recruitment, appointment and retention of faculty. There are about 1,800 faculty working with NOSM University across the region, the vast majority of whom are practising physicians.
NOSM University’s Office of Faculty Affairs acknowledges that burnout is an issue, and supporting the health and wellbeing of faculty—as well as folding them into the NOSM University community—is a top priority, including a recently implemented Faculty Wellness Program. Other work that has been accomplished toward these ends are the automation of some processes to make them more faculty-oriented, a new faculty newsletter, and the recruitment of about 125 more stipendiary faculty.
The Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs, Division Head of Clinical Sciences and Section Chairs continue developing systems to support clinical faculty. Their efforts include building relationships with the Local Education Groups (LEGs), increasing Academic Funding Plan (AFP) support, teaching hospitals, and tangibly supporting faculty to develop or enhance their research, academic and leadership careers.
We are eliminating the gaps in Northern Ontario health human resources in order to achieve equitable and sustainable access to quality health care.