Province announces six new med spots

Dr. David Walker is the dean of the faculty of health sciences, which will receive funding for six new spots starting 2008.
Dr. David Walker is the dean of the faculty of health sciences, which will receive funding for six new spots starting 2008.
Journal File Photo

Students thinking of applying to Queen’s School of Medicine will be pleased to hear that, starting in 2008, six new first-year spaces will be made available.

In an intimate press conference held in Macklem House on Barrie Street yesterday afternoon, Ernie Parsons, MPP for Prince Edward-Hastings, announced the provincial government’s commitment to create 104 new first-year medical positions in the province by 2008-09. Six of these positions will go to Queen’s School of Medicine.

Parsons told the ten or so people present the new positions will create more opportunities for students and increase access to doctors for the public.

“We have a critical shortage of family doctors for a number of reasons in Ontario,” he said. “We know that, as there is no one simple reason for the shortage of doctors, there is no simple approach that will address all the problems.”

Parsons said he thinks the increase in spaces for first-year medical students is part of a solution to the doctor shortage.

He added that the government will also be increasing funding to existing medical students by $12.4 million.

“I hope that this gives you some sense of two things,” he said. “One is our government’s commitment to health care in this province, and the second is our commitment to training our university students.”

Parsons added that medical students have a special privilege.

“You are blessed in the faculty of medicine to pursue a career that not only gives you a fine career, but the opportunity to pursue the quality of life for everyone in our province,” he said.

Ontario desperately needs doctors, the abundance of which helps both communities and industry, Parsons told the Journal after the conference.

“When an industry is considering relocation, the first question they ask is, ‘Will our employees get a family doctor?’ ” he said.

Prof. David Holland of the nephrology department agreed that doctors are desperately needed in Ontario, and said the University is doing its part in expanding its medical school as well as looking at new ways of teaching to best prepare its students for an evolving medical world.

“Queen’s School of Medicine has developed and continues to develop new and exciting curricula,” he said. “We have addressed not only the scientific knowledge required of a physician but also the skills and attitude needed of the modern practitioner.”

Heather Lindsay, president of the Aesculapian Society—the University’s medical students’ society—said she is pleased that the government recognizes the need for the training of more physicians.

“As med students, we’re made aware early on of the increasing need for more doctors,” she said. “I’m especially pleased that while one of Queen’s greatest strengths is our small size, our medical school is nevertheless continuing to meet this need [for more spaces] without compromising what makes us unique.”

Lindsay said the medical school’s upcoming expansion and curriculum changes will prepare med students to play an integral role in the growing and changing landscape of health care. She said that in addition to creating new spaces, medical school should be made more accessible financially.

“I do know that Queen’s has one of the highest bursary rates,” she said. “[But] med schools across the province need to be made more accessible regardless of a student’s financial situation.”

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