Transforming health education
We know that building and maintaining strong and healthy relationships is critical to creating sustainable local health systems across Northern Ontario. We also know that we simply have to work together if we’re going to cover a population of about 800,000 people across roughly 800,000 km2.
NOSM University is already partnered with more than 90 communities—Indigenous, Francophone, remote, rural and urban communities—in which our learners are living and training every day.
In addition to these critical partnerships, we believe the future of health education in Northern Ontario must also be purpose-driven, economical and leading-edge. That’s why we are working toward an interprofessional pan-northern medical university with regional medical campuses.
In this transformative solution, NOSM University will create distinct but interconnected academic regions with new community campuses. In collaboration with First Nations and Francophone communities, local health-service providers, local colleges and universities, and municipalities, the NOSM University pan-northern model will see that education, research and clinical services are directly linked to local needs. This is about streamlining services for learners, educators and patients no matter where they are in the North—all while keeping costs in line.
NOSM was established to reach into medically underserved communities in the North like never before. Our entire reason for being is to understand the health-care needs of the North, and to come up with equitable solutions that work for the North.
During our most recent community consultations in the fall of 2021, people were asked what they want and need from NOSM University.We listened and learned.
Overwhelmingly—but perhaps not surprisingly—the focus was on doctors: educating more of them generally, but with an emphasis on favouring the admission of Northern applicants so that they are more likely to stay in the North to practise. Plainly, people told us they need more family doctors, specialists, sub-specialists and other allied health professionals closer to home.
Other threads of interest and concern emerged during these consultations, too: curriculum revisions and updates—especially in the MD program—were on the radar, as was making Northern and rural health research a significant priority. Another thread: people told us again and again to leverage as many partnerships as we can—institutional, community, inter-professional and otherwise.
There also seems to be an understanding that NOSM University must be as nimble, agile and lean as possible, and that is only possible through partnerships. And while some people wrestled with the meaning of social accountability, this comment from a staff member tells us we’re on the right track: “NOSM’s social accountability mandate makes me so proud to work here.
It really is embedded in the fibre of everything we do.”