Tapping into the power of real-life superheroes.
Currently, Northern Ontario is in need of at least 313 full-time physicians; including 126 family physicians, 86 in rural communities. We need 160 specialists, with the most pressing needs in the disciplines of psychiatry (40), internal medicine (16), pediatrics (12), emergency medicine (12) and anaesthesia (10).
We continue to have the highest rates in the province for addictions, mental health, cardiac disease, cancer, and diabetes. We have an aging population with a life expectancy that is, on average, two years lower than the rest of the province. Food and housing insecurity continues to face both rural and urban communities in Northern Ontario and both are ongoing pressing issues. In the far north and in remote First Nations communities long standing boil water advisories, and higher rates of mental health and chronic disease continue to affect the progress NOSM is making.
Solutions will depend on our robust Physician Workforce Strategy launched this year, as well as innovative ways of thinking and aligning services. Planning relies on identifying new opportunities in multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral teams with enhanced education, interconnectivity and innovative technologies to help fill the gap. Community partnerships are critical and new ways of approaching health issues are needed.
An emphasis on family medicine, rural generalism, and advancements in technology are required to both meet the demand and improve access to care. There is an opportunity for municipalities and communities to form stronger partnerships with NOSM to build creative, sustainable solutions.
New pathways to NOSM were introduced this year, focusing on health, human sciences, and wellbeing. The Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) and NOSM relationship accord signed this year signified the goal of developing mutually supported initiatives that will build capacity and strengthen the health system within NAN territory. New student pathways were implemented to foster Indigenous and Francophone students encouraging the pursuit of health sciences, medicine and health-care professions.
Our community at NOSM will continue to do its part to alleviate the critical shortage by educating the next generation of doctors and interconnected health professionals. We will continue to identify and renew our partnerships, explore potential new partners and listen to the recommendations of communities who are eager to help us forge new pathways forward.
We work together as a collective, drawing on each other’s strengths and superpowers, to move forward in fighting this health human resource battle in the North. NOSM University is shaping up to be wonderful sequel!
NOSM University: Pan-northern model
As Canada’s first stand-alone medical university, we will:
- Increase access to reliable, high-quality care by educating health professionals;
- Capitalize on the unique and specialized regional clinical teaching resources;
- Strengthen our current partnerships with Lakehead and Laurentian Universities; and,
- Build relationships with other colleges, universities and health-care institutions, including Nipissing, Algoma and Hearst Universities.