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Media Release

NOSM-European Health Professional Recruitment and Retention Project Receives Funding

Recruiting and retaining health-care professionals for rural and remote communities is an ongoing challenge in many parts of the world. Today, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) announced that, together with partners from four European countries (Sweden, UK [Scotland], Iceland, and Norway), it would participate in a project to advance recruitment and retention of health and other public sector workers in the Northern Periphery and Arctic region. The project, titled Recruit and Retain 2: Making it Work, has received €2 million from the European Union. Within Canada, the project activities will focus on recruitment and retention initiatives of physicians in Northern Ontario and Nunavut.

Both Northern Ontario and Nunavut have historically faced shortages in health-care professionals. Recruit and Retain 2: Making it Work will implement a number of strategies to advance recruitment and retention of physicians in order to improve access to high-quality care in Nunavut and further expand upon strategies already in use in Northern Ontario.

NOSM was selected to participate in this program due to its expertise and experience in transforming the Northern Ontario health-care landscape. The School has garnered an international reputation for its success in improving Northern Ontario’s ability to recruit and retain health professionals to underserved communities.

The project is one of six funded by the European Union under the Northern Periphery and the Arctic Programme, with a total budget of €6.8 million.

Recruit and Retain 2: Making It Work is a continuation of a project headed by the European Union that took place from 2011-2014 called Recruit and Retain. The Recruit and Retain project investigated the underlying causes of challenges in recruiting and retaining health professionals in rural areas in the far north of northern countries in Europe. The project developed 29 solutions to the identified issues, and a business model to address them moving forward. NOSM was the only non-European partner in this project, and will use some of the recommendations from this project to inform its work in Northern Ontario and Nunavut.

NOSM’s involvement in the Recruit and Retain 2: Making It Work project was announced in Sault Ste. Marie at the International conference on Community Engaged Medical Education in the North (ICEMEN) 2016, taking place this week. ICEMEN 2016 is the fifth in a biennial series of conferences exploring education and research that seeks to increase access to care in rural and remote communities. Chief among the strategies used are social accountability (directing education to meet the needs of the region) and community-engagement (actively partnering with peoples in the region)—strategies for which NOSM is known around the world.

“In the ten years since NOSM opened its doors, Northern Ontario has permanently recruited more than 150 physicians in rural and remote communities that have been faced chronic shortages of health-care professionals,” says Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean. “This means that more than 180,000 Northern Ontarians now have a family doctor. We are very proud that the School’s unique education and research strategies are having the intended impact on the region, and we are excited to continue working to increase access to care in rural and remote communities.”

“Access is the most critical issue for remote communities,” says Dr. David Marsh, NOSM Deputy Dean and Associate Dean, Community Engagement. “Having access to a family practitioner in one’s own community is critical to the health and resilience of a population. We are looking forward to collaborating with the people of Northern Ontario and Nunavut to increase access to care close to home.” 

"I would like to congratulate the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and their European partners for joining forces on such a worthy initiative. I have had the opportunity to visit Canada's Arctic regions, a fascinating experience and an eye-opener to the many challenges but also opportunities for cooperation between Canada and the European Union," said Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador of the European Union to Canada. "We want to engage more with Arctic partners, to hear and respond to their concerns. That's why reaching out to northern communities has been one of my top priorities as Ambassador."  

As a community-driven research centre in Nunavut, we are particularly interested in exploring community perspectives on the issue of physician recruitment and retention in the North. This project has created a unique opportunity to combine our efforts across northern regions in Canada and the European Union to identify common goals, share best practices, and pilot innovative solutions, says Dr. Gwen Healey, Executive and Scientific Director, Qaujigiartiit Health Research Centre and Assistant Professor, NOSM. “We are excited about how our northern health systems can benefit from this collaboration."

“Working long term in Nunavut is becoming a viable career choice for physicians. Participation in this project with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the European Union will enable us to identify what we have done right and offers opportunities to implement new physician retention strategies that should stabilize the physician workforce over the next five years,” says Dr. Sandy MacDonald, Chief of Staff, Government of Nunavut, Department of Health. “A stable, committed physician work force will make a major contribution to Nunavut’s developing health care system.”

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 will investigate how community-driven health education and research builds healthy communities.

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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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