The Slaight Family Foundation is donating $1 million to support 40 Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) women medical students attending the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and who live in northern Ontario.
"The donation will establish a first-of-its-kind entrance scholarship to both increase the number of BIPOC women physicians—including transgender and non-binary people—in northern Ontario and contribute to the overall number of doctors in the region," says a news release today.
“This donation is groundbreaking," says Dr. Sarita Verma, President of NOSM.."Every marginalized woman in northern Ontario who dreams of becoming a doctor should feel inspired to apply to NOSM knowing there is financial support available.”
Verma is also the school’s first female BIPOC dean.
The newly created entrance scholarships will provide $25,000 each to 10 women entering NOSM’s MD program each year, over the period of four years.
"NOSM was the first medical school in Canada developed with an explicit social accountability mandate," adds the release. "By removing the systemic barriers and providing financial support, more BIPOC women will take their vital place in medicine. With 40 new BIPOC women physicians educated at NOSM, the number of self-identified BIPOC alumnae will double."
“This $1 million donation will have an immediate impact on future doctors in northern Ontario,” says Dr. Verma. “It comes at a critical time—currently there is a shortage of over 300 doctors in northern Ontario, as well as impending retirements, increasingly complex patients and entire communities without access to a family doctor.”
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“The pandemic has added to the many challenges faced by women and girls across Canada. This initiative is about helping women overcome barriers and gain more equitable access to higher education and opportunities,” said Gary Slaight, President of The Slaight Family Foundation.
Dr. Verma says the donation will also foster a new culture of mentorship, encouragement and equity in northern Ontario. “None of us can change the systemic barriers faced by BIPOC girls and women alone. This gift demonstrates the desire of the Slaight Family Foundation to be a part of NOSM’s mission—an equitable path to a brighter future for BIPOC girls and women.”