2020 Vision – NOSM’s Next Strategic Plan

Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
Northern Ontario School of Medicine

THUNDER BAY – Health – The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is a made-in-the-North solution, developed to address shortages of health professionals across Northern Ontario. A cornerstone of the School’s innovative approach to health professional education and research is community engagement: the process of working collaboratively with groups of people to address issues affecting the well-being of those people.

NOSM is spending the year 2014 developing its next Strategic Plan (2015-2020). In order to ensure that the School remains accountable to the needs of Northern Ontarians, NOSM invites you to publish the column below, written by the Dean, Dr. Roger Strasser, which explains the School’s strategic planning and invites all Northern Ontarians to give their input into NOSM’s future.

2020 Vision – NOSM’s Next Strategic Plan
Reaching Beyond Extraordinary Together

There was once a traveler in the Irish countryside looking to find his way to Dublin. “Excuse me,” said the traveler to a farmer. “I am lost. Could you tell me how to get to Dublin from here?” The farmer looked at the man, turned to gaze out over the fields, scratched his chin and said, “If you want to get to Dublin, I wouldn’t start from here.”

This Irish anecdote has been on my mind a lot lately. The farmer provides the traveler with an important truth; success in reaching your goals depends on where you start. If our “Dublin” is equitable, quality access to health care for all Northern Ontarians, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) must continue to look at Northern Ontario as our starting point.

As we near the end of NOSM’s 2010 to 2015 Strategic Plan, we are beginning to assess next steps for reaching our Dublin. To achieve this, we are spending this year cultivating a rich dialogue within the School and with the people and communities we serve, particularly focused on educational excellence, outstanding research, relationship development, organizational effectiveness and expanded resources.

In January 2014, NOSM issued a call for expressions of interest to oversee the strategic planning process for the 2015 to 2020 Strategic Plan. To our great excitement, we were flooded with responses and established the Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC) – a group of 28 people that includes the perspectives of Board members, Academic Council members, physicians, staff, faculty, learners, academics, administrators, and community members. Those who were not selected to join SPAC have been invited for participate as Strategic Planning Reference Group members.

One aspect of our strategic planning involves learning from our experience. At NOSM, we emphasize continuous quality improvement evaluating our work and recording our findings to ensure we continue to build on lessons learned.

We are also undertaking an environmental scan. Over the last few years, the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other organizations have challenged medical schools to transform health professional education and research to meet changing societal needs. NOSM is the only Canadian medical school established with a social accountability mandate. In order to continue to be a leader, we must accurately assess national and global issues and developments in our field. For these perspectives, we have already begun reaching out to other Canadian medical schools, international health professional institutions and others who may provide insight.

The most important aspect of our strategic planning will be to seek the perspectives of our collaborators so that we can advance together. Aboriginal communities, Francophone communities, health service partners, host universities, funders, local and provincial governmental officials, LHINs and many others will have a say in the future of the School. These collaborators share the dream of equitable, responsive health care for all Northern Ontarians, and their feedback ensures that we develop a plan for NOSM that will continue to meet their needs.

With a grin, I often say that our acronym NOSM stands for “No Ordinary School of Medicine.” Even though our history is relatively short, NOSM started in Northern Ontario, for Northern Ontario and has grown into something extraordinary. Our many successes – positive influence on recruitment and retention, innovative use of technology, unique distributed community engaged learning model and our long list of national and international awards – have created a global reputation that has only been possible because of the contributions of so many. With the new NOSM Strategic Plan, we hope to continue to work with Northern Ontarians to reach beyond extraordinary, charting our future with 2020 vision of the road before us.

Your input is so very important in setting the priorities for NOSM in the second half of this decade. I invite you to visit nosmsp2020.ca to submit your input and to join the conversation about NOSM’s future.

Dr. Roger Strasser AM
Professor of Rural Health
Dean and CEO
Northern Ontario School of Medicine

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