A big change is taking place at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine on Canada Day.

On July 1st, the medical school officially welcomes its new Dean and CEO, Doctor Sarita Verma.

She replaces Doctor Roger Strasser, whose last day as Dean and CEO is June 30th.

Verma is NOSM’s second Dean and CEO.

Strasser has been in charge of the school since it first opened to students in September 2005.

During its existence, the medical school has seen 595 graduates and 94 percent of that group has stayed to practice in Northern Ontario.

In fact, since beginning to graduate med students beginning with 2009, the doctors’ shortage the north experienced as eased up a little.

One of the school’s newer programs is a Dietetic Internship Program, introduced in 2007, and since its inception, the program has produced 135 Registered Dietitians.

Verma’s resume in the medical field is exhaustive but her interests didn’t initially start out in medicine.

Verma trained as a lawyer at the University of Ottawa in 1981 but changed her mind and 10 years later she obtained her medical degree at McMaster University and became a family physician.

Over the course of her medical career, she has served in several capacities including a stint in 2016 as the Special Advisor to the Dean of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Verma is currently the Vice President, Education at the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.

Although NOSM opened in 2005, the work to get it off the ground began three years earlier and Strasser was there from the beginning.

Over the years under Strasser, the school of medicine has made quality health care a reality for all of Northern Ontario and Verma says it’s her goal to build on the relationships Strasser established.

Under Strasser, NOSM students began spending their entire third year in a Northern Ontario community.

Med students also take part in a four-week cultural experience program where they live and learn in Indigenous communities.

NOSM now has 1,700 faculty members since opening 14 years ago and the campuses in Sudbury and Thunder Bay generate $122-134 million in economic activity throughout Northern Ontario.