SFU School of Medicine moves forward

July 09, 2024
More family doctors will be trained faster as the new medical school as SFU's School of Medicine moves forward with funding for space and operations, as well as a proposed three-year curriculum model and a founding dean.

British Columbia is closer to training more family doctors faster as the future medical school at Simon Fraser University confirms foundational pieces of space, operations, a three-year curriculum model and a founding dean.  

On July 9, 2024, B.C. Premier David Eby announced $33.7 million in capital funding for the interim space at SFU’s Surrey campus, alongside $27 million in operational funding through Budget 2024. This builds on a previous $14 million in start-up and planning funding. SFU will design, renovate and equip these spaces to accommodate classrooms, labs, and faculty and staff office space to deliver the new program.

In May 2024, SFU’s Senate and Board of Governors formally approved the establishment of a School of Medicine.

“We’re training a new generation of doctors with a focus on family medicine to provide the services we need in our communities,” says Premier David Eby. “This investment in the first entirely new medical school in Western Canada in 55 years will mean more family doctors graduating each year to provide care for people.”

The school is currently working towards candidate status with the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS), with the goal of preliminary accreditation by fall 2025 and recruitment of its first class for summer 2026 to train future family doctors and other primary care physicians. 

The medical program at SFU is proposed as a three-year program with a focus on preparing physicians to provide team-based community care, working towards building physician capacity province-wide to meet the current and future needs of a growing and diverse population.  

The three-year program mirrors the core content found in four-year programs but accelerates completion by running through the summer. Forty-eight students are anticipated to be in the inaugural class, growing to approximately 120 students over the next decade.

“I’m thrilled to celebrate this milestone for the School of Medicine and look forward to all it will accomplish for SFU, Surrey and our province,” said Joy Johnson, President and Vice-Chancellor, Simon Fraser University. “Everyone deserves health care that is effective, accessible, inclusive and culturally safe. We are working hard to build a School of Medicine that will educate the next generation of physicians and make a difference for British Columbians in communities across the province. I cannot wait to see it come to life.”    

On July 4, 2024, SFU’s Board also approved Dr. David J. Price as the founding dean for the medical school. An alumnus of UBC medical school, Price practised comprehensive family medicine (including obstetrics and palliative care) in Vancouver for more than a decade. A nationally recognized leader in family medicine and primary care, he has held faculty and leadership roles in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University since 2000. He has held the position of interim dean since September 2023. In fall 2024, SFU will be recruiting for an Associate Dean, Indigenous, for the School of Medicine.

“Taking on the founding dean role for Simon Fraser University’s new School of Medicine is both a huge honour and responsibility,” says Dr. Price. “I’m confident, however, that our growing and diverse team is ready to tackle the job in creating a primary and community care focussed medical school that all British Columbians will be proud of.  

“The partnership and contributions of the First Nations Health Authority and Fraser Health among others will be critical to our success and I look forward to developing and deepening those relationships. My medical career started in British Columbia over 30 years ago and I look forward to coming home and bringing my years of experience in family medicine, healthcare leadership and consulting both nationally and internationally to this exciting journey.”

Tiffany Deng, an undergraduate in SFU’s Biomedical Physiology program, is a member of the School of Medicine’s Learner Advisory Committee, a group of students who are helping to shape the school’s future curriculum and student services. She hopes to attend the school and pursue a career as a family doctor.

“As a member of the Learner Advisory Committee, I am thrilled to help shape a curriculum that weaves together primary care, Indigenous knowledge, and community partnerships,” says Deng.  

“Growing up, I saw firsthand the impact of having dedicated family doctors in our community, inspiring me to pursue this very path myself. Knowing that I now have an active role in increasing the number of family doctors in BC feels incredibly rewarding. I firmly believe the new school will transform B.C.'s health system, making it one that advances community-based, patient-centered care.”

What our partners are saying about today’s news

  • Richard Jock, CEO of the First Nations Health Authority: “The First Nations Health Authority is committed to transforming the delivery of health care for First Nations people living in B.C. We are partnering with SFU to ensure the new medical school integrates First Nations perspectives on health and wellness, and builds the foundation for a culturally safe health-care system.”

  • Dr. Ralph Belle, Vice President, Medicine, Fraser Health: “This new interim space at SFU's Surrey campus is more than just a physical expansion, it's a transformative leap toward addressing the urgent need for physicians in our communities. By investing in the education of future doctors, we are ensuring that everyone has access to the high-quality, patient-centred care they deserve. This initiative is a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to strengthening the health care system.”

  • Lisa Beare, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills: "The new medical school is a vital part of training more family doctors and meeting the healthcare needs of people in British Columbia. This government is focused on delivering results and through this interim space and the operational funding to support this medical school at SFU’s Surrey campus, we’re taking action to train the doctors of tomorrow and build the primary care workforce for all of B.C."
  • Adrian Dix, Minister of Health: “Taking action to increase access to primary care for people in B.C. is a top priority of our government. By establishing a new medical school at SFU - the first in Western Canada in more than half-a-century - with a focus on family medicine and training the next generations of physicians, we are putting people first and building an inclusive public health-care system that people can count on.”

  • Brenda Locke, Mayor of Surrey: “I am so pleased to see the new medical school at SFU’s Surrey campus moving forward in Surrey’s downtown core. Not only will it help address the shortage of medical professionals, but it will also bring economic benefits and enhance the quality of life for our residents. Surrey is committed to supporting this initiative and working with SFU and our provincial partners to make it a resounding success.”