About NOSM Education Research Communities

Distributed Clinical Learning Sites

The coming years of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s undergraduate medical degree program will see students learning in a variety of communities in each and every year of their educational experience. Aboriginal, remote, rural, and urban practice will all be experienced first hand in diverse northern locales.
The curriculum development team has emphasized the importance of providing such an immersive experience within the communities of Northern Ontario, and has designed these placements to promote an awareness of living and practicing within the various communities in the northern region, and to promote social accountability towards northern residents. These placements are essential to meet the learning objectives of the school.

Research shows positive correlation between practical community experience in medical education and the location of a physician's practice upon graduating. We aim to produce physicians who are capable of practicing in our nation's rural and remote areas, but are of such caliber that they will have opportunities anywhere.

The medical school is establishing a network of learning sites for students throughout Northern Ontario. Students will live and learn in different locations each year gaining valuable experience and clinical skills.

Where will students learn?

Year 1: Aboriginal Communities
Year 2: Small Rural/Remote Communities
Year 3: Large Rural and Small Urban Communities
Year 4: Urban Communities

Phase 1 - Years 1 and 2 

  • Students are located mainly at their home campus at either Lakehead or Laurentian University, with a four-week Aboriginal community placement in first year and two four-week rural and remote community placements in second year.
  • Year 2 will include a six-week elective block

Phase 2 – Year 3  

  • Students are located in the community, experiencing their comprehensive community clerkship.
    Elective experience will be included.

Phase 3 – Year 4

  • Students are located in the community carrying out specialty clerkship rotations.
    Elective experience will be included

Aboriginal Placement - Year 1

In addition to their training at one of the two main campuses in Thunder Bay or Sudbury, the Aboriginal communities have requested that students complete an aboriginal placement in their first year of studies. This compulsory month long placement will take place in the spring, in a northern rural aboriginal community.

The placement will familiarize the student with aboriginal lifestyles and the practice patterns of professionals serving remote aboriginal communities. Students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in their chosen community, and learn from a diverse body of clinical practitioners including Registered Nurses, Health Directors, and Traditional Healers.

Community placements are carefully chosen on the grounds of preceptor knowledge, technical infrastructure, patient flow and security. Communities interested in hosting students work with the School to ensure that standards in all of the above areas are met.

Small Rural/Remote Placements - Year 2

In their second year of studies students will be required to complete two community placements of six weeks each in duration in a small rural or remote community.

This placement will focus the student on practicing their clinical skills and making diagnoses within the rural context, and will familiarize them with the diversity of rural communities within Northern Ontario. Some of the participating communities are noted on the map to the left.

 The Medical School celebrates generalism as a core value in its curriculum. Placement within rural communities allows our students to develop the diversity of skills and abilities typical of the rural northern physician, where breadth of service provision is substantial.

Benefit to Faculty

Being a Preceptor in a distributed clinical learning site provides significant benefit to health practitioners in Northern Ontario, many of which are otherwise unavailable to the remote professional:

  • Full faculty privileges with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine
  • Credited Professional Development funded by the school
  • Professional ties with academic centres
  • Exposure to multidisciplinary faculty body
  • Access to research opportunities
  • The ability to influence future curriculum development
  • The challenge and excitement of teaching.

Health Practitioners interested in participating in the Northern Ontario School of Medicine distributed clinical learning model are welcome to examine the recruitment guidelines on the School’s Faculty website.

Benefit to Students

The students of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine will derive considerable benefit from the distributed clinical learning model, spending a full forty percent (40%) of their time in off campus placements:

  • Increased exposure to a range of health care delivery environments
  • Improved understanding of skill sets necessary to practice in multiple settings
  • Exposure to rural practice skills
  • Exposure to cultural and ethnic diversity
  • Improved understanding of community based health issue assessment
  • Opportunity to examine possible practice environments prior to graduation
  • Opportunity to learn from multiple preceptors with diverse interests and professional backgrounds.

Students requiring further information on the School distributed clinical learning model are welcome to contact the Undergraduate Medical Education (UME) office at ume@nosm.ca or by calling 705-662-7257.


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