THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – From October 7-9, 2013, NOSM hosted a delegation of medical educators and health service administrators who travelled from Northern Sweden to learn from NOSM’s successful model of distributed, socially accountable medical education and research.
Communities in Northern Sweden are experiencing severe shortages of health professionals. The north of Sweden encompasses 50 percent of the country’s geography, but holds only 10 percent of the population. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of family physician positions are vacant in the region – a problem that educators and administrators are having a difficult time addressing.
Comprised of medical leaders from Umeå University, the northern-most university in Sweden, and leaders from health organizations in Sweden, the delegation came to learn about many aspects of NOSM’s educational model. Most notably, they were interested in how NOSM collaborates with local communities and health services to recruit local students, how NOSM grounds its model of education in the Northern/rural context, and how NOSM supports learners in developing the skills and the desire to practice in rural and underserved areas.
“We heard Dr. Roger Strasser speak about the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Sweden about a year ago,” says Dr. Herbert Sandström, Associate Professor at Umeå University. “His talk about the School really piqued our interest in what you are doing here, and how it can help us in Sweden.”
The group met with educational and administrative members of the organization, toured the School to learn more about the curriculum, and visited some of NOSM’s partner communities.
“Many countries around the world struggle with providing equitable access to health care, especially in rural and remote communities,” says Dr. Roger Strasser, NOSM Dean. “We were pleased to host our Swedish guests, to share our expertise, and to introduce them to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine’s unique model of education.”
“We work in different conditions than yours, but we hope that we can bring the essence of NOSM’s distributed model of education back to Sweden,” says Dr. Olav Rolandsson, Head of Family Medicine at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University.