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NOSM Hosts International Conference to Discuss Putting ‘Communities in the Driver’s Seat’ to Promote Rural and Remote Health

From Monday, June 20 to Saturday, June 25, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) will host an international conference in Sault Ste. Marie, titled the International conference on Community Engaged Medical Education and Research in the North (ICEMEN) 2016 along with three partner events: Conference on the Move, the Indigenous Research Gathering, and the Northern Health Research Conference (NHRC). More than 300 guests from around the world will meet in Sault Ste. Marie for ICEMEN 2016, which is the fifth in a biennial series of conferences co-hosted by Flinders University School of Medicine and the Training for Health Equity Network (THEnet). 

Like Northern Ontario, many regions around the world are working to increase access to rural and remote health-care. One prominent way of accomplishing this is through community-engaged health education, where students live and learn in rural, remote, Indigenous, or underserved communities. The purpose of ICEMEN 2016 is to convene global partners to share best strategies for community-engaged education and research that meets the needs of rural, remote, and/or Indigenous populations. The theme of the conference is “The Story of Community-Engaged Health Professional Education: The Community in the Driver’s Seat.”

While ICEMEN 2016 supports global information sharing and problem solving, the Indigenous Research Gathering and the Northern Health Research Conference look primarily to support local initiatives. The Indigenous Research Gathering is one in a series of NOSM gatherings that brings together Indigenous partners from across Northern Ontario to seek guidance about conducting research with Indigenous peoples. Guided strongly by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, the Indigenous Research Gathering will include cleansing ceremonies to address the past, with the goal to develop a plan for a positive path forward for Indigenous research in the North.

Supporting a culture of health research in the North ensures that health questions relating specifically to our region are addressed. NOSM’s Northern Health Research Conference provides a forum for researchers across Northern Ontario to come together and share their findings. In its 11th year, the NHRC continues to be an exciting opportunity for researchers to engage with their peers, collaborate, and develop partnerships that will benefit the health of the people and communities of Northern Ontario.

Prior to the ICEMEN 2016 Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, June 22, some delegates have participated in ICEMEN 2016’s Conference on the Move, which will travel from Toronto to Manitoulin Island before arriving in Sault Ste. Marie. The purpose of Conference on the Move is to offer international delegates, in particular, an experiential introduction to the life and care in Northern Ontario, Indigenous history and culture, and the ways in which NOSM and its communities work together to influence the health of the people in the region. 

Commentary and Quotes

“It is fitting that ICEMEN 2016 is being held in Sault Ste. Marie,” says Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean. “Sault Ste. Marie is one of 90 communities where NOSM faculty provide learners with the high-quality, hands-on education that has become a hallmark of Northern Ontario. I am excited to collaborate with our international colleagues to continue to refine educational strategies in order to continue to improve the health of the people we serve—strategies that we can use right here, in the North. ”

“Around the world, we are sadly facing a predictable mal-distribution of medical graduates to the detriment of communities that need them most,” says Professor Paul Worley, Dean of Flinders University School of Medicine in Australia. “In order to address this maldistribution effectively and safely, we must share the successes and obstacles that we are facing in each of our contexts. Conferences such as ICEMEN 2016 allow us to listen, test, critically analyze, and create new ideas together that will touch our various worlds.”

“THEnet is excited to be here at ICEMEN 2016 and looks forward to engaging with this growing global movement of health workforce education institutions committed to reducing health inequities,” says Björg Pálsdóttir, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of the Training for Health Equity Network. “We look forward to learning from all international delegates, and hope we can use this forum to foster closer relationships, build alliances, and galvanize critical thinking and action towards making sure everyone has an opportunity to lead a happy and healthy life.”

“The purpose of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action was to begin national reconciliation—to build a stronger Canada,” says Tina Armstrong, NOSM Director of Indigenous Affairs. “At NOSM, we too have been asking similar questions. What does reconciliation look like for us, at our medical school in the North? The Indigenous Research Gathering is an opportunity to connect with our Indigenous partners, hear their wisdom, and build a path forward together.”

“In the past, we have not always heard the voices of those who are ill or injured, rural and remote, or in marginalized populations,” says Dr. Penny Moody-Corbett, NOSM Associate Dean of Research. “It gives me great pleasure that these events gather great local and international minds to discuss how we can improve healthy equity, and ensure that people and communities around the world have a voice in their health and care.”

“In order to address the health needs of our communities, we must understand the communities that we serve, and engage them in meaningful and robust ways,” says Dr. Marion Briggs, NOSM’s Director of Community Engagement and Co-Chair of ICEMEN 2016. “That’s why the theme of ICEMEN 2016 is ‘Putting Communities in the Driver’s Seat.’ The communities we serve have unique needs and realities—and their narratives and experiences must continue to be at the forefront of our work.”

About ICEMEN 2016

ICEMEN 2016 (International conference on Community Engaged Medical Education in the North) is a five-day conference exploring themes of social accountability and community engagement in medical education and research. With a theme of The Story of Community Engaged Health Professional Education and Research: The Community in the Driver’s Seat, ICEMEN 2016 will investigate how community-driven health education and research builds healthy communities.

About the Northern Health Research Conference

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s Northern Health Research Conference (NHRC) has been held annually since 2006. It provides an opportunity for researchers in the region to present their research and exchange research ideas. The conference demonstrates NOSM’s commitment to research, health care, and education to the people of Northern Ontario and beyond. The NHRC explores research activities arising from community-based activities and highlights projects under way from students, residents, and community-based researchers. The conference provides opportunities for collaboration and networking. 

About the Indigenous Research Gathering

The overall goal of the Indigenous Research Gathering is to provide an opportunity for researchers (including researchers who themselves are Indigenous) to come together to acknowledge past experiences, conduct ceremonies for cleansing, generate future opportunities for positive and respectful relationships between Indigenous communities and researchers and plan a new and positive path forward. The Gathering, which will be held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is on the traditional Ojibway territory of the Batchewana First Nation, neighboring the community of Garden River First Nation. 

About the Northern Ontario School of Medicine

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centered, community-engaged education and research. 

About Flinders University School of Medicine

The Flinders University School of Medicine has an international reputation for integration and innovation in patient care, education and research. As a member of the Consortium of Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships and a founding member of the Training for Health Equity Network: THEnet, the School is also committed to being accountable to the community it serves, both locally and internationally. The Flinders University School of Medicine’s main campus is situated in Adelaide, South Australia and co-located within Flinders Medical Centre, an academic medical centre combining a tertiary teaching hospital and medical school. The School works with a transcontinental network of rural, remote and regional hospitals and clinics across the 3,500km north south central corridor of Australia. 

About THEnet

At the Training for Health Equity Network (THEnet), we envision a world of healthy, resilient communities—regardless of gender, ethnicity, wealth or geography—accessing quality health services from robust health systems. Based on the experience and successful strategies of our founding schools, Training for Health Equity Network (THEnet) is a global movement advocating for socially accountable transformative health workforce education. THEnet seeks to align health workforce education to meet local needs, including ensuring community engagement. We know that families have better health outcomes when health providers understand and respond to the particular needs of the communities they serve.

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is committed to the education of high quality physicians and health professionals, and to international recognition as a leader in distributed, learning-centered, community-engaged education and research. 

Kimberley Larkin
Communications Officer
Phone: 705-662-7243
Email: klarkin@nosm.ca 


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