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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 212

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine: Responding to the Needs of the People and Communities of Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
R Strasser
Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Ontario
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19967640

Introduction: Northern Ontario, like many rural and remote regions around the world, has a chronic shortage of health professionals. Recognizing that medical graduates who have grown up in rural areas are more likely to practice in rural settings, the Government of Ontario, Canada established a new medical school with a social accountability mandate to contribute to improving the health of the peoples and communities of Northern Ontario. Background: The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is a joint initiative of Laurentian University in Sudbury and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, cities one thousand kilometers apart. The NOSM model of medical education is built on several recent educational developments including rural-based medical education, social accountability of medical education and electronic distance education. This paper describes these developments as background to presenting the Northern Ontario School of Medicine as a socially accountable, geographically distributed rural-based medical school. NOSM MD Program: The school actively seeks to recruit students for the MD program from Northern Ontario or similar northern, rural, remote, Aboriginal, and Francophone backgrounds. The holistic, cohesive curriculum is grounded in Northern Ontario and relies heavily on broadband electronic communications to support distributed, community engaged learning. Students, both in classroom and clinical settings, explore cases as if they were physicians in Northern Ontario communities. Clinical education takes place in a wide range of community and health service settings so that students can experience the diversity of communities and cultures in Northern Ontario. Conclusion: Although NOSM is still in the early stages of development, there are encouraging signs that the school's evidence based model of medical education will be successful in developing a sustainable, community responsive health workforce for Northern Ontario.

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