Thunder Bay

Northern Ontario School of Medicine leads Canada in matching grads to residency programs

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is leading the country when it comes to matching graduates with residency programs with a 100 per cent success rate, according to Dean Dr. Roger Strasser. It is also proud to report that Indigenous doctors account for about 12 per cent of the school's graduates.

Graduates train in northern, rural communities; Indigenous physicians account for 12% of graduates

Dr. Roger Strasser, the dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, says the school has a 100 per cent success rate for matching graduates to residency programs. (Samantha Samson/CBC News)

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is leading the country when it comes to matching graduates with residency programs with a 100 per cent success rate, according to Dean Dr. Roger Strasser.

"We've never had a graduate not matched to a residency program, and, in fact, in most years the whole class has been matched in the first stage," said Strasser, noting there are three possible stages in the matching process, and that all students who met the mandatory requirements of the M.D. program  by the deadline to apply to the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) were matched. 

"NOSM is the only medical school in Canada, for over 20 years, where the whole class has been matched in the first stage and that situation suggests to us that the residency program directors of Canada want to have our students, our graduates in their program."

Students train with family doctors in small communities

 Strasser believes what makes NOSM doctors more attractive is the amount of practical training they get during third year when they live and work in one of 15 smaller communities outside its main campuses in Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

"They're based in family practice and you might say the curriculum walks through the door. The first patient might be a child, that's pediatrics. The next patient might be pregnant, that's obstetrics.The next patient might have a surgical problem," said Strasser.

"Our medical students are really learning their core clinical medicine from the patients in the family practice community setting and within a couple of months they're thinking and talking about going to work, rather than going to study, and so by the end of the third year our students are functioning more like first year graduates."

However, despite the consistent success of its program, NOSM is adding a fifth year of study as a contingency for future students who may go matchless in the annual cycle.

Indigenous graduates inspire next generation of doctors

"In recent years, there's been an increasing number of Canadian medical graduates who, after the match, do not have a residency program and its in that context we're seeing the value of having an opportunity for those students only, who have not been matched to a residency, to take an optional fifth year as a medical student," said Strasser.

As proud as Strasser is of the school's enviable match record, he is equally proud of its success at training Indigenous physicians, who now account for approximately 12 per cent of its graduates.

Many of those graduates take time to participate in the Walking In Two Worlds summer camps, where they talk about their own education and interests.

"The young people in particular are inspired to see a future for themselves that might include health care and maybe studying medicine," he said.

NOSM is celebrating the Class of 2019,  as well as the 10th anniversary of its inaugural graduation, on May 2 in Sudbury and May 8 in Thunder Bay.