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UWO meds get Tory bucks
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UWO meds get Tory bucks
By Oonagh Baerveldt
Western moved one step closer to becoming the leader in medical education when it was awarded $1 million by the Ontario government on Monday.
The initial investment will be directed towards an innovative rural and regional network for physician training. Once the program is up and running, Western will receive an additional $4 million annually in provincial support as they spearhead a clinical network that will be formed with the University of Windsor.
"The reality is that Southwestern Ontario is an 'under-doctored' region," said Carol Herbert, dean of Western's faculty of medicine and dentistry. "This program will be a prototype and a leading Canadian solution for the problem of doctor shortages."
Gord Hough, press secretary to Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Elizabeth Witmer, said while Ontario has 38 per cent of Canada's population and 34 per cent of physicians, it is still understaffed.
The program will create twenty new post-graduate/residency positions in Western's faculty of medicine in the area of advanced family medicine and other under-supplied areas.
Full clinical clerkships will become available for third-year medical students at the University of Windsor, effectively establishing UW as a centre for clinical education.
"We're thrilled with the level of co-operation from all parties involved. This is much more economical and innovative than setting up a new medical school," said John Carrington, UW spokesperson.
The program will prepare students to practice medicine in rural, regional and urban environments, Hough said. It will be matched with a fast-tracking program, aimed at speeding up the certification program for foreign physicians who wish to practice in underserviced communities, he added.
"It is widely known that Northern Ontario is one of the underserviced areas in the province, however, it is the Windsor and Sarnia areas that are statistically the most underserviced," Hough said.
The first students will enter the network program in July 2002 and the first graduates of the advanced family medicine program will emerge in 2003.
According to Hough, the hope is students who train in a certain geographic area will be more inclined to establish a practice in the same area after graduation.
Hough said the new program will alleviate some concern on the part of the province, although they will have to keep their eyes open for problems it could cause outside the province.
"One of our main concerns is to make sure, with these programs, we do not begin to compete on a monetary basis with other provinces who don' t have the money to attract doctors in the same manner," Hough said.
"It would be unfair for us to just buy all our doctors."