First class of medical students land in Oshawa for innovative Queen’s/Lakeridge program

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Published August 28, 2023 at 4:15 pm

Lakeridge Health Oshawa

The inaugural class of 20 medical school students arrived at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa Monday for their first day of orientation as part of the new, first-of-its kind in Canada Queen’s-Lakeridge Health MD Family Medicine Program.

Dr. Nadia Ismiil, Lakeridge Health’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief of Academic Affairs and Research (as well as Interim Chief and Medical Director of Laboratory Medicine) said she was “very excited” to welcome the first cohort of medical students to Oshawa.

“We know that when people have access to primary care, communities thrive and succeed. The shortage of family doctors in Ontario and Canada is critical and requires a bold and new collaborative approach. We believe that this program holds tremendous promise to increase access to primary care in Durham Region.”

Dr. Jane Philpott, Queen’s Dean of Health Sciences, echoed Ismiil’s statement, calling the new program an “innovative model of medical education” and one of the “potential solutions” to the family doctor shortage. “It will train and graduate practice-ready, community-focused physicians able to work as part of interdisciplinary teams.”

According to the Ontario College of Family Physicians, it is estimated that 2.2 million adults in Ontario have neither a family doctor nor a primary care nurse practitioner. In Durham Region alone nearly 44,000 people are without a primary care doctor – a number that has grown by 11,000 in just two years.

The groundbreaking Queen’s-Lakeridge Health MD Family Medicine Program aims to address the critical shortage of family doctors in Durham Region and beyond, said Lakeridge Health Chief and Medical Director of Family and Community Medicine Dr. Joel Kennedy.

“Today’s orientation event is a tremendous milestone for Lakeridge Health and our Queen’s University partners,” Kennedy enthused. “Both organizations recognized a need and when we received the provincial government’s support for the new medical school seats, our collective efforts focused on creating a curriculum focused on the comprehensive skills and knowledge that primary care doctors need.”

Through the integration of classroom and workplace learning, students will begin to build relationships with the community from the start and will engage in urban centres and small communities across the Region. Within six years, the program will graduate well-trained, comprehensive family physicians ready to make an immediate impact.

“The patient-doctor relationship is at the core of family medicine,” noted Kennedy. “Family doctors support us at our most vulnerable moments and nurture and guide our health journeys. The student experience in our program will foster the longer-term patient and community relationships that are central to family medicine.”

This program has already attracted the attention of others across the province, country and even globally, with the Queen’s-Lakeridge Health team hoping it can become a blueprint for a new way to educate future doctors and health-care professionals.

Queens’s first footprint in Oshawa happened in 2012 when the school established a Family Medicine teaching site established at Lakeridge, which was designed from the ground up to be a competency-based ‘Triple C’ site, focused on Family Medicine, Continuity, and Comprehensiveness, where learning is centred around the local Family Medicine clinic. The goal of the teaching site is to “maximize the amount of learning the students have with Family Medicine preceptors” while also partnering with Lakeridge Health to provide hospital-based experiences.

The new program builds on that partnership, said Dr. Allan Grill, Assistant Dean, Queen’s-Lakeridge Health Campus. “We look forward to our faculty and students playing a greater role at the Oshawa Hospital and local community-based family practice offices while making an impact across the region as they prepare for careers in family medicine.”

The collaboration got a big boost in April when the Province announced that Queens would get an additional 14 undergraduate seats and 22 post-graduate positions, with twenty of the undergraduate positions awarded to the Lakeridge Health program.

“Medical education expansion is a key part of our government’s plan to connect Durham Region’s growing population to health care closer to home,” said Ontario Colleges and Universities Minister Jill Dunlop at the time. “We’re training the next generation of Ontario doctors right here at home. Expanding the number of medical seats that prioritize Ontarians will make it easier for the homegrown doctors of tomorrow to receive training and provide world-class health care where it is needed most.”

The new investment builds on the expansion of 160 undergraduate and 295 postgraduate medical training seats announced last year, the largest expansion of Ontario’s medical school system in more than a decade. The government is investing $100.8 million over three years to support the rollout of those seats.

Five of Ontario’s six existing medical schools across Ontario are being allocated 14 new undergraduate seats and 22 new postgraduate medical training positions including Queen’s, McMaster University, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto. Western University has been allocated 16 new undergraduate seats and 22 new postgraduate medical training positions.

Ismiil said the collective goal is to graduate more family doctors.

“We want to provide a customized experience to prepare these future physicians for where they’re needed the most – in our communities,” she said. “Through this program, we’re creating an innovative approach to education that supports healthier populations. No doubt, graduates of this program will play a crucial role in the health of the Durham Region population for years to come. We’re focused on inspiring our students and we hope to inspire others to join in the journey.”

To learn more about the Queen’s-Lakeridge Health MD Family Medicine Program, visit https://meds.queensu.ca/academics/queens-lakeridge-health-md-family-medicine-program

Queen’s University School of Medicine

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