Abstract

Background: The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) opened in 2005 with a social accountability mandate to contribute to improving the health of the people and communities of Northern Ontario. NOSM recruits students from Northern Ontario or similar backgrounds and provides Distributed Community Engaged Learning in over 90 clinical and community settings located in the region, a vast underserved rural part of Canada. This paper presents outcomes for graduates of NOSM’s undergraduate and postgraduate medical education programs with emphasis on NOSM’s social accountability mandate.

Methods: NOSM and the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research (CRaNHR) used mixed methods that include administrative data from NOSM and external sources, as well as surveys and interviews of students, graduates and other informants.

Results: 92% of all NOSM students come from Northern Ontario with substantial inclusion of Aboriginal (7%) and Francophone (22%) students. 62% of NOSM graduates have chosen family practice (predominantly rural) training. 94% of the doctors who completed undergraduate and postgraduate education with NOSM are practising in Northern Ontario. The socio-economic impact of NOSM included: new economic activity, more than double the School’s budget; enhanced retention and recruitment for the universities and hospitals/health services; and a sense of empowerment among community participants attributable in large part to NOSM.

Discussion: There are signs that NOSM is successful in graduating doctors who have the skills and the commitment to practice in rural/remote communities and that NOSM is having a largely positive socio-economic impact on Northern Ontario.

Keywords: Social Accountability; Community Engagement; Distributed Medical Education

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