Province adds more student spots for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Province adding 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions at medical schools
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) will gain spots for 30 undergraduate students and 41 for postgraduate students over the next five years.
The Ontario government announced Tuesday it would add a total of 160 undergraduate seats and 295 postgraduate positions at medical schools across the province over that same time.
"This expansion will increase access to family and specialty physicians and other health care professionals in every corner of the province to ensure that Ontarians can access the health care they need, when they need it, wherever they may live," Minister of Colleges and Universities Jill Dunlop said in a press release.
Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, Queen's University, Western University, McMaster University and the University of Ottawa will also be able to accommodate more medical students.
"This is astounding," Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM's dean, president and CEO, told CBC News. "You know, the last time medical education positions were increased was well over a decade ago, and I was at the University of Toronto at the time."
The school currently has 64 undergraduate seats and 65 postgraduate students.
NOSM and the province's other medical schools have long lobbied the province to add more positions for medical students.
Verma said the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need for more physicians in northern Ontario, which she said has caused severe burnout and "huge strain" on physicians and all health professionals.
An Ontario Medical Association report in 2021 said northern Ontario was short more than 300 doctors.
Verma said it can take a minimum of six years to train a new family physician, but added NOSM's additional 41 postgraduate positions have immediate results on the health care system, as those physicians start residencies in the region.
"I think it's only going to get better," she said.
"You know, in terms of Indigenous students, for example, we have the highest rate of admissions in the country. This year 17 per cent of our admitting class are self-declared Indigenous and 20 to 25 per cent are self-declared francophone."
Verma said more than 80 per cent of NOSM students are from northern Ontario, and added 89 per cent of students who do their residency with the school stay in the region.
On April 1, NOSM will officially be an independent university. The school was affiliated with Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, and Laurentian University, in Sudbury, but started the process to become independent after Laurentian filed for insolvency in February 2021.
With files from Sarah MacMillan