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Municipal lobby group calls for higher enrollment at School of Medicine to address doctor shortages

'Many of the communities in the north either have a doctor and nurse shortage'
Northern Ontario School of Medicine, NOSM

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) is concerned with the physician, nurse, and health care professional shortage in northern Ontario and it wants the Province to increase enrollment at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to help solve the problem.

"Many of the communities in the north either have a doctor and nurse shortage," says President Danny Whalen. "Some communities have no physicians at all."

The group had lobbied for the creation of the NOSM, "and now we will ask the Province to increase the enrollment to address the shortages in our communities.  Also, the Board will discuss with the Ministry of Health the funding small Hospitals receive to attract and retain nurses."

See: Sundridge councillor shares knowledge from physician recruitment fair

And: Doctor shortage. 'The health of people is deteriorating due to a minimal or utter lack of care'

Just last week, following extensive in-person community consultations across northern Ontario, including North Bay, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine reaffirmed its pledge to make health care better for the entire region.

See: 'The north needs more health resources' says Northern Ontario School of Medicine

At the December 2, board meeting, Dr. Sarita Verma, NOSM President, provided feedback from consultations held with more than 1,000 northern Ontarians over the past few months.

“Since September, we’ve had the honour of meeting and hearing from people from Kenora and Sioux Lookout to Hearst and Parry Sound in our travels,” said Dr. Verma. “What we heard frequently and consistently was that the north needs more health resources in rural and remote areas, and the dedicated health-care workers in those areas, especially in the pandemic era, need urgent relief in order to keep going.

“NOSM University will continue to emphasize its primary mandate to addressing the region's health-care gaps,” says Dr. Verma. “NOSM prioritizes the need for education in northern Ontario and leading population and health research to make sure that any health care provided is tailored specifically to the needs of the people in the region. NOSM University will continue to meet the needs of the north and we will recruit from its people – who train here in culturally relevant programs and stay here to practice.”

Verma did not address the calls for increased enrollment in a news release.

The Dean’s report for 2021 A year in review. Meeting the NOSM Challenge. can be viewed here.

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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