Early planning begins on proposed SFU medical school

October 21, 2021

Imagine a future where tomorrow’s doctors embody the SFU’s values and commitments to community engagement; innovation; and equity, diversity and inclusion.

About 160 people took part in an online information session Monday to hear about preliminary planning and to share input and feedback that will help guide SFU as it develops a vision for a proposed medical school.

“This is a chance to envision a different way of thinking about medical education,” says SFU President Joy Johnson. “It’s a chance for us to really think about what is required for our communities in British Columbia.”

“We're also thinking about educating a different kind of physician, who really embody the values of this new program – who have an understanding of how to work with our Indigenous communities and how to infuse their practice with equity and inclusion.”

In late 2020, the provincial NDP announced that it would create B.C.’s second medical school at SFU’s Surrey campus. SFU is laying the foundation for the program by building a three-way partnership with the First Nations Health Authority and Fraser Health Authority.

“I'm excited about the opportunity to really contemplate how we might integrate Indigenous ways of knowing into our curriculum,” adds Johnson. “This is a time when reconciliation is on all of our minds, and I think there's an opportunity to really think differently. We have some amazing Indigenous physicians in Canada that are really at the forefront of this and I really want us to push our thinking.”

Over the next several months, it’s hoped that the province will greenlight development of a business case for the proposed school.

“We want to have a school and a curriculum that focuses on community‑embedded, socially accountable and culturally relevant health care,” says Catherine Dauvergne, SFU’s provost and vice-president, academic.

“There will be a focus on appropriately valuing and prioritizing Indigenous health-care traditions. We are also attentive to the needs of other underserved populations including newcomers to Canada. Fraser Health Authority covers a geographic area that has the largest percentage of newcomers to Canada of any similar‑sized geography anywhere in the country.”

The session, which attracted about 50 current students and 25 faculty, in addition to a number of staff, alumni and community members, marks the beginning of SFU’s internal engagement process. Participants were asked for their best advice about the proposed school and queried on the vision and principles that should guide early planning. They were also encouraged to ask questions and help surface issues that will guide subsequent engagement.

A survey, which asks the same questions posed during the session, can be accessed here until November 15 at noon, to gather valuable feedback from across the SFU community. Additionally, a series of targeted workshops will engage key groups and gather input from a variety of internal stakeholders.

External engagement will begin in early 2022.

For all the latest developments, visit SFU’s medical school webpage.

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