NOSM grads achieve 100 per cent residency match

Medical students at NOSM (Photo supplied)

By LEN GILLIS

Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) graduates are enjoying a 100 per cent rate of success in terms of being matched up to residency programs.  It is something that NOSM Dean Dr. Roger Strasser is more than pleased about.

Strasser said the success of the 2019 class is not new. It is a trend that has occurred since the first NOSM graduates applied for their residencies in 2009.

“When our first graduation occurred 10 years ago, all the students in the charter class were met in the first round the national residency match” said Strasser.

“At that time it was more than 15 years since a whole class had matched in the first round of a residency match for any other medical school in Canada. Since then many of the graduating classes have been matched in the first round, and all of our graduating classes have been matched eventually.  he added.

Strasser explained that medical education in Canada is a two-step process, with the first step being the MD program followed by a residency program.  The newly graduated physicians apply to The Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) to be matched up with a medical school that has their preferred specialty.

“Once you graduate as an MD you’re a doctor. Then there is training in a particular specialty. A specialty might be family medicine, it might be pediatrics, it might be surgery. And for each specialty there is a specific training program – the residency program – and the length of the training varies according to specialty.”

In many of the years past, most if not all of the NOSM students were matched up in the first round said Strasser. In other years students were matched up in the second round.

“The minimum is two years for family medicine residency training, although many family residents choose do a third enhanced skill year,” he said.

Strasser said in many of those cases the physicians will take additional training in emergency medicine, care of the elderly or maternity care.

He said NOSM offers a family residency program along with eight general residency programs.  He said this includes general internal medicine, general surgery, general pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery and public health and preventive medicine.

“Sixty two per cent of NOSM MD graduates have chosen or have  been matched to family medicine training, mostly outside of the big cities, so rural family medicine; 33 per cent to other general specialties, which leaves five per cent to sub-specialties like dermatology, radiation oncology,  and neurology,” he said.

“The sub-specialties are very important to us in Northern Ontario at NOSM for two reasons. The first is that we need those sub-specialties in Northern Ontario.  They need to go elsewhere for their residency training, but they are coming back,” he continued.

Strasser said the second reason is that the sub-specialty residencies are competitive and he takes it as a good sign that the directors of the residency programs are willing to take NOSM graduates.

“The sense that we have is that we produce high quality graduates from the MD program that are sought after by the residencies program directors across Canada.”

Asked if the medical school is living up to the hope that it is bringing more physicians to the Northern Ontario, Strasser said yes.

“First of all having a medical school in Northern Ontario has helped to attract physicians to be involved in the academic pursuits, educational research and so on.  Just the decision to have a medical school has improved recruitment for the hospital in Thunder Bay and the hospital in Sudbury,” he said.

He explained that NOSM has worked hard to recruit most of its students in the North. Strasser said 92 per cent of their medical students have grown up in Northern Ontario with the other eight per cent coming from remote and rural parts of Canada.

He said NOSM also has a distributed, community-engaged learning program which has students in the  MD program spend four weeks in an Indigenous community in their first year, and another two four-week integrated community experiences in small Northern Ontario communities in second year, excluding Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

He said the family residency program is partly geared to having the students appreciate the idea of setting up their medical practice in the North. This was part of the original impetus to have a medical school established in Northern Ontario.

Strasser said this has resulted in the most of the hub cities of Northern Ontario being better supplied with family physicians before NOSM came along.

“But it is also true for some of the smaller communities as well,” said Strasser. He said a study done a few years back revealed that among eight smaller communities there were 30 vacancies for physicians.  Since the study was done, Strasser said that number dropped to one vacancy.

He said those communities have moved from being in continual crisis mode to now being able to plan ahead for health care and spending less money on recruitment.

“So I think these are examples of how having NOSM has really made a difference; in fact dramatically improved access to health care for people in Northern Ontario,” said Strasser.

 

Filed in: Education

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