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New Program Set to Bring More Medical Residents to the North

Posted on June 6, 2023

The new Northern Ontario Resident Streamlined Training and Reimbursement (Nor-Star) program from the Ontario Ministry of Health aims to remove barriers to training more physicians in Northern Ontario. A new portion of the program will launch on July 1 and will reimburse the costs of travel and accommodation for medical residents on elective in Northern Ontario.

Data from NOSM University shows that among medical residents who complete an elective in Northern Ontario, one in five will return to practice in the North. And for learners who complete both their medical degree and a residency elective in Northern Ontario, the likelihood of practising in Northern Ontario increases to one in two. Additional physicians will return to work as locums, providing important support for local doctors.

Northern Ontario communities are actively recruiting for more than 350 physicians, and this figure does not account for upcoming retirements.

“The Nor-Star initiative is well-timed to help us meet physician shortages across our region. This new funding will help create opportunities for medical residents to get to know what it is like to live, learn, and work in our communities and to collaborate with our terrific clinical faculty here,” says Dr. Sarah Newbery, Associate Dean of the Physician Workforce Strategy at NOSM University.

“Our critical care department at Health Sciences North (HSN) is actively working on our physician resource planning to ensure that we have a great team here serving Northeastern Ontario,” says Dr. Kyle McKechnie, chief of critical care at HSN. “The opportunity to bring physicians training in critical care to Sudbury will help us to continue to deliver excellent care well into the future.”

Medical residents in any discipline—from family medicine to pediatrics to critical care—are eligible. Funding is provided by Ontario Health for three groups of postgraduate learners:

  1. Residents from any Canadian medical school who are undertaking an elective (launches July 1, 2023).
  2. Residents from any Ontario medical school who are working with a locum (launched March 2023).
  3. Residents in their last months of training who work as a locum on a restricted license under Northern Specialist Locum Programs (launched March 2023).

Dr. Tara Baron, NOSM University’s incoming Associate Dean of Continuing Education and Professional Development, notes, “I came to Northern Ontario from my pediatrics training at the University of Toronto and loved what I experienced about the work here, so I decided to return. This new program creates opportunities for more postgraduate learners to have the same kind of experience that many of us did when we were in training.”

“It is terrific to see the collaboration that made this happen,” says Dr. Newbery, “We advocated strongly for this program and are grateful for the partners who advocated alongside us. In particular, this program addresses one of the key recommendations brought forward by Northern physicians through the Ontario Medical Association’s Prescription for Northern Ontario.”

Application information and eligibility requirements can be found on the Medical Electives page.

NOSM University provides a variety of clinical learning opportunities across Northern Ontario. Clinical elective placement options are easy to explore using NOSM University’s new, user-friendly, interactive catalogue.