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It’s May, the merry month of May! It is time to celebrate NOSM University.

Posted on May 14, 2024
A robin sits on a branch, with the bright green growth of new spring leaves in the background. | Un merle d’Amérique se tient sur une branche sur un fond de nouvelles feuilles vert clair du printemps.

Finally, spring has sprung. With it comes a sense of renewal, a hope for the future, and a sense of rebirth. Spring brings celebrations of our achievements, of our graduates, and of our contributions to the physician workforce in Northern Ontario. April 1, 2024, marks the second anniversary of the proclamation of our becoming an independent medical university, the only one of its kind in Canada.  Look at the trail we have blazed in two short years! A new Board of Governors, new Senate, new Chancellor, new Provost, 100% fully accredited education programs, unprecedented expansion, and financial stability. As well, a solid footing in labour, donor, and government relations. Employee satisfaction is at an all-time high and we are taking care of business for our learners, staff, faculty, communities, and stakeholders. 

May is a very busy month at NOSM University. We just hosted the second annual NOSM University Achievement Celebration and the inaugural integration of three conferences—Northern Lights, Northern Connections, and Northern Constellations—which were held for the first time in Toronto. Among our highest attendance rates to date, 265 registrants came to the conference and 290 to the Achievement Celebration to honour our leaders, staff, faculty and preceptors, and learners.

A selfie of Dr. Sarita Verma with the attendees at the NOSM University Achievement Celebration in the background.
Photo credit: Dr. Sarita Verma

We are now gearing up for two convocation ceremonies: the first in Thunder Bay on May 24, 2024, and the second in Sudbury on May 31, 2024. For us, it is always the most wonderful time of the year watching the latest (and in this case biggest) class of MD students graduate and head off to their postgraduate training.  

We are expecting 28 MD graduates in Thunder Bay and 41 in Sudbury. Meanwhile, the inaugural cohort of our Master of Medical Studies program will also be celebrated at the ceremony, with one graduate on each campus. I anticipate that 63 postgraduate trainees will complete their residency programs between January and July 2024. 

As I reflect on this special time of year, I recognize that this will be my last time presiding over convocation as President, Vice-Chancellor, Dean, and CEO. Both ceremonies will be incredibly meaningful and poignant to me personally. I will say it here first: congratulations to all of you! You are about to embark on the next phase of the journey towards practice. It has been my pleasure to watch this part of your trajectory since I have been Dean for the entire length of your program. I know most of you now and I am incredibly proud of all of you. The MD class of 2024 has been through the pandemic and the evolution to becoming an independent medical university.  Your tenure also included two accreditation visits and many internal changes. Your leadership and support, as well as your commitment to social accountability, have been important and impactful. On behalf of us all, thank you for all you have contributed to this community during your time with us. Remember you always have a home with us. 

NOSM University makes me so proud! 

More excellent news: the second round of the CaRMS match ended on April 26 and the results are in. More than half (55%) of our MD graduates are going on to become family doctors—the highest proportional rate in Canada. NOSM University graduates also had a 100% match rate, and more than half of the MD graduates will complete their residency training at NOSM University. This is another resounding success for us, and terrific news for the people of Northern Ontario. 

Another big celebration was Earth Day on April 22, 2024, when more than 100 members of the NOSM University community came together to learn how to make a difference for people and the planet. Planetary Health Lead Dr. Elaine Blacklock and special guests from the financial sector discussed “Investing for People and the Planet: The Impact of Investments on an Individual’s Carbon Footprint.” I eagerly support Earth Day as a testament to our commitment to planetary health. As a signatory to the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada’s Planetary Health Declaration, we are making important advances in exploring our curriculum, environmental health, and advocacy.  

As I touched on, the Northern Lights, Northern Constellations, and Northern Connections Conference was a major success. Congratulations to Dr. Tara Baron, Dr. Sarah MacIsaac, Mr. Mathieu Litalien and their entire CEPD team for making this the highlight event of the academic year. An exceptionally large and engaged audience attended sessions including the Learner Innovations and Impact presentation competition, the NOSM University expansion panel, and, of course, our keynotes “Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: From Compute to Care” with Dr. Muhammed Mamdani and “We’re Going to Have an Evolution: We All Want to Change the World!” with Dr. Joanne Hamilton. By popular demand, we were also pleased to introduce Continuing Medical Education workshops that offered opportunities to practice clinical and procedural skills. 

The second-annual NOSM University Achievement Celebration, emceed by Jessica Pope, shone the spotlight on the incredible accomplishments of faculty, preceptors, learners, alumni, and staff. You can view the full list of award-winners using this link. We also acknowledged the incomparable Dr. William McCready at his “Last Lecture” and as Professor Emeritus. In his indubitable way, Bill spoke eloquently on “Lessons Learned and the Role of Serendipity.” I was also delighted to celebrate the inaugural recipients of the Dr. Sarita Verma Awards for Distinguished Leadership: Dr. David MacLean, Dr. Kim Varty, Dr. Kristy Côté, Marie Parkkari, Dr. Mélanie-Rose Frappier, and Taylor Murie. 

Dr. Bill McCready stands at a microphone and gestures with his hands. A screen is behind him. He wears a black suit jacket, a bow tie, and glasses.
Dr. Bill McCready delivers his “Last Lecture” at the NOSM University Achievement Celebration

In the midst of all these activities, we held an invitational mini-summit on the exploration of a departmental model for family medicine. Following two previous meetings (May and November 2023), a small group of key leaders has begun to explore options that may be considered by the community, clinicians, and Senate. NOSM University is the only medical school that does not have a departmental structure. In 2023, there was a review of the Northern Ontario Academic Medicine Association (NOAMA) by Dr. Bob Bell, who found that the current lack of structure for family medicine at NOSM University was a barrier to the expansion of new models and to our success. Considering an unprecedented expansion of training in family medicine, we will be vetting a sample model and business case with all stakeholders to get input and consultation about the feasibility, risks, and opportunities this change may offer. Importantly, this may lead to other significant structural opportunities for clinical departments in all specialties. However, this will take time, likely many years, to accomplish—if NOSM University decides to go in that direction. Stay tuned and please contribute to the conversation. We are making history as we look at improving our clinical structures.  

As I look to my last few months here, there is so much now wrapping up, and I feel confident in a brilliant, stable future for our university. I am pleased to announce that we have secured the last of the endowments from Lakehead University, and that brings us to our first $50 million for new endowment and investment accounts. Those learners who need financial assistance for their education will fare well. We are deeply grateful to all donors who have contributed to this important fund. As well, I am very pleased to announce that NOSM University has signed a multi-year commitment to continue our occupancy at Lakehead University. This adds tremendous stability to our future in Thunder Bay. 

NOSM University has been busy building and strengthening relationships and sharing our story with supporters from key organizations. At the recent International Congress on Academic Medicine (ICAM) in Vancouver, NOSM University’s presence was very well received with a successful reception where we welcomed 55 academic medicine colleagues to learn more about NOSM University’s impact in Northern Ontario. The momentum continued with Dr. Sarah Newbery receiving the prestigious Society of Rural Physician’s Rural Mentorship Award, a testament to her dedication to supporting the next generation of rural physicians. Congratulations to Dr. Newbery on this well-deserved recognition! 

Dr. Sarah Newbery holds up a framed plaque. She wears a black jacket over a teal shirt and a large silver necklace.
Dr. Sarah Newbery accepts the Rural Mentorship Award from the SRPC.

Further strengthening ties with our partners across the region, Dr. Owen Prowse and I were fortunate to connect with leaders at the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association. A NOSM University team also met with the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association. Drs. Lariviere and Prowse presented to the Federation of Northern Ontario MunicipalitiesOn May 6, Ray Hunt, Joanne Musico, and I visited many MPPs at Queen’s Park, where the Honourable Sylvia Jones and Northern MPPs including Thunder Bay – Atikokan MPP Kevin Holland and MPP France Gélinas graciously acknowledged our considerable achievements. These ongoing interactions highlight the importance NOSM University places on collaboration and fostering a strong support network for healthcare in Northern Ontario. 

The Honourable Jill Dunlop, Dr. Sarita Verma, and MPP Kevin Holland stand together for a photo. Dunlop wears a light woven jacket and khakis; Dr. Verma wears a dark floral shawl; and Holland wears a navy suit.
Left to right, the Honourable Jill Dunlop, Ontario Minister of Colleges and Universities; Dr. Sarita Verma; and Thunder Bay – Atikokan MPP Kevin Holland.
Three women and two men in business clothes stand together.
Left to right, Dr. Sarita Verma; the Honourable Sylvia Jones, Ontario Minister of Health; Thunder Bay – Atikokan MPP Kevin Holland; Ray Hunt, Vice-President Administration and Chief Operating Officer; and Joanne Musico, Associate Vice-President, External Relations

May has been a wonderful month of building memories and events to celebrate our greatness as Canada’s only independent medical university.  I hope the next few months as we head into summer are equally joyful. For now, welcome to spring!  Start a garden, enjoy the sun, and celebrate the future!  

Merci, miigwetch, thank you. 

NOSM University External Relations team wins two international awards 

The words “Gold Quill Awards 2024 Winner” appear in a graphic. The graphic colours are awards-themed in black and gold.

It is my pleasure to share with you that the NOSM University External Relations team has been awarded two 2024 International Gold Quill Awards of Merit from the International Association of Business Communicators for the campaign The Future Will See You Now. 

  • Division 1: Communication Management > Category 7: Marketing, Advertising and Brand Communication 
  • Division 4: Communication Skills > Category 28: Creative Design 

Congratulations to our External Relations team!    

Registration now open for the Northern Health Research Conference 

The words “Northern Health Research Conference Registration Now Open” appear over a dark background on the right side of a graphic. On the left is a photo looking towards the sky and up tree trunks in a well-lit stand of conifer trees.

Calling all Northern Ontario health researchers! Registration is now open for the Northern Health Research Conference 2024. Join us on June 10-11 virtually or in person in Sudbury. 

The conference explores community-based research in Northern Ontario and will highlight projects from students and residents. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with students, residents, and other community-based researchers as we highlight the impactful projects shaping our communities! 

Register now: 

The logo for the Dr. Gilles Arcand Centre for Health Equity

We are pleased to announce the official opening of the Dr. Gilles Arcand Centre for Health Equity on Monday, June 10, 2024. All are welcome to watch the ceremony on YouTube @NOSMtv.  

Extension of Dr. David Marsh, Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies 

Dr. David Marsh looks at the camera with a small smile. He wears a black suit jacket and glasses. He has a short white beard and moustache.
Dr. David Marsh

Dr. Sarita Verma is pleased to announce the extension of the term for Dr. David Marsh until December 31, 2025. The extension has been established to facilitate continuity in the portfolio until the transition to the new President is completed.  The extension also completes a change in title from Vice-Dean Research, Innovation, and International Relations to Vice-President, Research and Graduate Studies. 

This change is required to facilitate the next steps in the process for NOSM University to achieve independent grant administration of Tri-Council funding and completes the realignment of senior leadership positions to appropriately reflect the status of NOSM University as an independent educational institution. 

Along with Dr. Céline Larivière, Provost and Vice-President Academic, Dr. Owen Prowse, Vice-President, Clinical Partnerships and Hospital Relations, and Ray Hunt, Vice-President, Administration and Chief Operating Officer, this completes the process of renaming the senior leaders reporting to the President, Vice-Chancellor, Dean, and CEO. Dr. Marsh’s duties and responsibilities remain unchanged following the title change. 

NOSM University Convocation Ceremonies: May 24 and 31  

On behalf of Dr. Sarita Verma, President, Vice-Chancellor, Dean, and CEO of NOSM University, and the NOSM University Senate, you’re invited to watch the Spring 2024 convocation ceremonies and graduation celebration on YouTube @NOSMtv. 

Thunder Bay convocation ceremony
 Friday, May 24, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. 

Sudbury convocation ceremony
 Friday, May 31, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. 

If you have questions, please visit the Convocation website.