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NOSM to Become First Stand-alone Medical University in Canada

Posted on June 3, 2021

On June 3, 2021, the Government of Ontario passed legislation to make the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) a university. With this status, NOSM becomes the first stand-alone medical university in Canada.

“This is a historic occasion for our medical school and all of Northern Ontario,” says Dr. Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO of NOSM. “We are grateful to Minister Romano and the Ford Government for this incredible transformation, as the first medical school in Canada founded with a social accountability mandate we are now the first medical university of its kind in the country.”

NOSM was established as a government strategy to address the health needs of the region, improve access to quality care, and contribute to the economic development of Northern Ontario. It was born of a grassroots movement, from communities across Northern Ontario advocating for a solution to regional health inequalities. Becoming a university translates that vision into a reality in the future.

Since opening its doors in 2005, NOSM has produced 714 MDs, 48 self-identify as Indigenous, 151 self-identify as Francophone with an additional 66 MDs set to graduate this spring. In addition, 579 residents have completed NOSM programs. More than half of these health practitioners have stayed in Northern Ontario, with the majority establishing their practice in Sudbury and Thunder Bay.

“The Government is proud to support this legislation to grow world-class postsecondary education in Northern Ontario. Thanks to this legislation, Hearst will become Ontario’s second independent Francophone university, governed by and for Francophones. NOSM will become Canada’s first standalone independent medical school and be empowered to expand its current services and programs and address the health needs of the region. The legislation represents a major opportunity for Northern Ontario to build and expand two new independent universities. In the coming months the Ministry will be working with the two institutions and with northern communities and with stakeholders about the details of how NOSM and Hearst will operate in the future,” says Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities.

NOSM’s latest strategic plan, The NOSM Challenge 2025, will move forward with addressing the urgent crisis in physician workforce and health education and research reform.

“We will build upon the strength of our flagship campuses in Sudbury and Thunder Bay, with an expanded medical school, new residency programs, innovated health professions education, and population-based research within a pan-northern regional model. This is exciting for all of Northern Ontario,” says Dr. Verma. “NOSM University will have an immense impact on the health and wealth of Northern Ontarians.”

NOSM will begin broad consultations about the next steps over the summer months. More information about this will be communicated publicly in the coming weeks.


About the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM)

NOSM is an award-winning socially accountable medical school renowned for its innovative model of distributed, community-engaged education and research. With a focus on diversity, inclusion, and advocacy for health equity, NOSM relies on the commitment and expertise of the peoples and communities of Northern Ontario to educate health-care professionals to practise in Indigenous, Francophone, rural, remote and underserved communities.

  • NOSM was established as a separate legal entity ‒ an independent not-for-profit corporation with its own Board of Directors. Its affiliation with Laurentian University and Lakehead University was for the purpose of conferring degrees.
  • Other than the degree granting authority, all other operational and academic aspects of the medical school are established under NOSM’s authority.
  • The NOSM MD program is independently accredited by the Committee on Accreditation for Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). NOSM’s accreditation will not change by becoming a university.
  • All degrees issued under the authority of Lakehead and Laurentian University in the past, will remain in good standing and not be affected.

About NOSM University

  • Once legislation is proclaimed in force, NOSM University will form a new Board of Governors and new Senate.
  • NOSM University will continue to receive 90% of its operating funds directly from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Colleges and Universities.
  • NOSM University will continue to handle the administration of its own staff and faculty, curriculum, labs and equipment, and provide support and graduate its own learners. It will continue to provide its own finance, IT, research, and libraries.
  • NOSM University will remain deeply committed to its partnerships with Indigenous, Francophone, rural and remote communities that have been critical to NOSM’s mission and success.
  • NOSM’s partnerships and collaborations with over 500 organizations, 90-plus communities, and more than 1,800 clinical, human and medical sciences faculty dispersed across all of Northern Ontario will continue.
  • NOSM has recently renewed affiliations with the two Academic Health Science Centres, Health Sciences North in Sudbury and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and partners with Lakehead University, Laurentian University, Health Sciences North, Health Sciences North Research Institute, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute in the Northern Ontario Health Innovation Cluster.
  • As a University, NOSM will not be leaving Thunder Bay or Sudbury and will build on its collaborative relationships with Laurentian University and Lakehead University.
  • NOSM will conduct extensive consultations with Northern Ontarians about the vision for NOSM University.
  • NOSM University will join some of the world’s highest ranked medical schools that are freestanding medical universities and all fully accredited including: Karolinska Institute in Sweden, the University of Vienna, the Mayo, and Kaiser Permanente institutions in the United States.

For further information, please contact:

Joanne Musico
Director, Communications and External Relations
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Cell:     705-919-1370