Donations alleviate student debt

Donations alleviate student debt
NOSM has the highest student debt in comparison to other medical schools across Canada. A transformation of support is on the horizon.

The average debt of a fourth-year NOSM medical student is $190k according to the Graduate Questionnaire 2020 reported by the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC). Other medical schools across Canada have average student debts of $100k per student.  

There is significant disparity for NOSM students due in part to being a socially accountable medical school. NOSM students reflect the diversity of Northern Ontario and differ in socioeconomic status from other Schools.  

The majority of NOSM students are recruited from smaller Northern, rural and remote communities, all of whom are vastly underrepresented at other medical schools across Canada. Students coming from varying socioeconomic backgrounds to NOSM accrue more debt. 

Debt Diagram

“There is no comparision to other medical schools,” says Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO of NOSM. “Our medical students come from communities who are in critical need of doctors—that is one way we uphold our social accountability mandate. And our School is the youngest. We don’t have the same level of long-term growing investments like, for example, at the University of Toronto Temerty Faculty of Medicine where they’ve had a maturing endowment fund for decades that has grown to over $2 billion.”

“Ultimately, any time a donation is made to NOSM it has a huge impact on medical students in Northern Ontario,” she says.

According to the numbers, a medical student at NOSM receives around $5.6k per year in scholarship and bursary support. Students at medical schools across Canada receive on average $10k per year, per student.

It’s a challenge that has been flagged by NOSM’s accreditation as an area of financial health that requires improvement. 

“I have seen the efforts of so many add up to better opportunities for our students. We have donors from within Northern communities, across Ontario and Canada,” says Terry Oja, Financial Aid Officer at NOSM. “What we know is that NOSM has more medical students in need of financial aid compared to other medical schools in Canada. Receiving access to endowments, bursaries, scholarships and emergency funds make all the difference—compared to the Canadian averages, these are the financial supports that students at NOSM need,” says Terry. 

To put it further into perspective, the University of Toronto spends approximately $5.5 million per year on scholarships and bursaries that are accessible to their medical students annually, not all of whom apply for financial support.  

At NOSM, $1 million a year is divided between 64 students over four years. Ninety per cent of NOSM medical students apply annually for scholarships and bursaries. NOSM simply has more students applying for financial aid and less funding to divide amongst all of them. It’s an area that the School is focussed on improving. 

”Donors have an immediate and very direct impact in the lives of NOSM medical students,” says Rahim Dharamsi, Chief Advancement Officer at NOSM. “There is a disparity of support for medical students in Northern Ontario and this needs to change if we want to retain and sustain future physicians in the North. We need to support them.”

NOSM students and graduates are making a difference every day in the health of communities across Northern Ontario. Your support makes that happen. You can make an impact. Learn about ways to give.

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