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NOSM addressing health needs of Northern Ontarians

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) bills itself as more than a medical school.

Make no mistake, it is a school made up of highly-qualified medical staff which passes on its knowledge to students. But according to NOSM, the school is also “a strategy to address the health needs of Northern Ontarians.”

President and CEO of the North Bay Regional Health Centre Paul Heinrich has said in the past few years, a near-crisis level of 12,000 “orphaned” patients has been reduced to 5,000. Heinrich adds the doctor shortage is not over. NBRHC calculated late last year that due to attrition, 24 additional doctors will be needed in the next five to seven years.

“The majority of learners at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine come from the North, and many stay in the North once they graduate. Since 2011, 194 NOSM-educated family physicians are now practising in our region, resulting in better access to care for approximately 228,000 people,” says Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean.

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A document entitled Rooted in the North: NOSM’s Report to Northern Ontario 2018 has been released, highlighting many achievements, including:

  • More than 90 communities now participate in the education of NOSM learners.
  • 94% of NOSM graduates who have completed both their MD and residency programs at NOSM are now practising in Northern Ontario.
  • 595 MD graduates since 2009.
  • 135 Registered Dietitians have graduated from NOSM’s Northern Ontario Dietetic Internship Program since the internship began in 2007.

Twelve family doctors who also cover regular shifts at the NBRHC have accepted positions in North Bay in the last few years. Chief of Staff and Vice President, Medical Affairs Dr. Donald Fung said in an October 2017 presentation to North Bay City Council a shift in recruiting tactics to keep NOSM graduates in the city is working.

Fung said more attention to detail on matters such as help finding employment for the doctor’s spouse, financial incentives to help pay back enormous student loan debts incurred from 12 years of studying and training, plus a concerted effort to let the doctors in training know how much NBRHC wants and needs them has turned the tide.

NOSM says it is rooted in the North and “owes its progress in making Northern Ontario a healthier place to the many people and communities who have embraced the School’s students, supported NOSM and advocated for improved health services across the region.”

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