A new medical school for B.C.

The provincial government is enhancing primary care and access to family doctors across B.C. Part of this work includes the creation of a medical school at SFU to educate more doctors to serve underserved populations and to improve care throughout the province.

The next step is the development of a business case for government review and approval.

SFU plans to create a program where medical students and residents learn in team-based primary care settings, which are patient-centred and consider social, environmental, and prevention contexts.

The medical school will be based in Surrey, with place-based learning opportunities across the province. 

First Nations, Inuit and Métis knowledge systems and perspectives will be embedded throughout the school, with strong connections to remote, rural, and Indigenous communities.

The government has provided financial support so that SFU can facilitate accreditation work, curriculum and space planning.

Medical school leadership and progress

A project board has been established to oversee the planning work for a final business case. Membership includes the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, the Ministry of Health and SFU.

Working groups are underway, comprised of SFU leaders, external medical education experts and partners. These groups are co-designing curriculum, space, workforce planning and research requirements for the new medical school.

Dr. Roger Strasser is consulting on this project as the interim dean, providing leadership for the planning work. Dr. Roger Strasser is a recognized leader in the development of health professional education and was the founding Dean and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

Dr. Sarah Strasser is consulting as interim vice-dean with a focus on accreditation requirements. Dr. Sarah Strasser is a global leader in rural health and medical education and has held academic leadership roles in Australia, Canada, Guyana and New Zealand.

Dr. Jon Meddings, a former Dean of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine, has been hired as a consultant to provide advice on curriculum planning.

Indigenous health leaders continue to guide SFU on First Nations, Inuit and Métis knowledge systems and perspectives.

Medical school curriculum will be built on the following pillars

  1. Prepare graduates to meet the prevention and primary care needs of diverse communities and populations across B.C.
  2. Educate physicians to work in team-based primary care settings that are patient-centered and socially accountable.
  3. Commit to reciprocal community partnerships in the development and implementation of the medical school.
  4. Embed and equalize Indigenous knowledge systems.
  5. Provide community-based learning opportunities.

Benefits to creating a medical school at SFU

  • More learning pathways and opportunities for students
  • An increase in faculty positions, both within the Lower Mainland as well as throughout the province
  • Greater research funding and interdisciplinary research opportunities, with more reach throughout B.C.
  • Stronger partnerships with health authorities, medical professionals and other community organizations
  • Enhanced institutional profile

What SFU heard during an initial internal engagement process in 2021

In the fall of 2021, SFU began an internal community engagement process for what was then a proposed SFU medical school. Among other questions, people were asked: What values/principles should guide our early planning? And what is your best advice for SFU as we move forward in planning for the proposed new medical school? In a themed summary report, SFU’s Centre for Dialogue captured the views and ideas from faculty, staff and students during an online information session on Oct. 18, 2021. The report, What We Heard, also captured feedback from a pair of targeted webinars and an online survey. The wide-ranging answers informed early planning and are now guiding subsequent phases of engagement. You can read the report here

Participate in an information session

SFU is excited to be working with the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, the Ministry of Health, UBC and the health authorities across the province, as part of the long-term solution to improve primary care for British Columbians.

Building on feedback received in previous phases of engagement, SFU's Office of the Provost and Vice-President Academic (Provost’s Office) would like to give SFU faculty, staff and students a chance to get updates, provide further feedback and explore how they can benefit from and be involved with the new medical school.

Upcoming information sessions:

There are no information sessions currently scheduled, and more information about upcoming sessions will be added here soon.

Recent information sessions:

  • March 2, 2023: Watch a recording of the most recent general information session for faculty, staff and students.
  • March 28, 2023: Watch a recording of the most recent research-focused information session for faculty and graduate students.
  • April 3, 2023: Our most recent lunch and dialogue session for Indigenous faculty, staff, and students and those who support our Indigenous communties.
  • April 25, 2023: View the PowerPoint presentation of the space and infrastructure-focused session for students, faculty and staff held at the Surrey campus.

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About Dr. Roger Strasser

Dr Roger Strasser is a leader in the global reform of health professional education. Recognizing the importance of context and community in medical education and research, Dr Strasser has gained an international reputation for developing and refining novel strategies to educate health professionals in and for rural communities.

As a result of his formative work in this field, Dr Strasser has become one of the world’s foremost authorities in rural, socially accountable medical education, as well as a sought-after speaker and advisor.

Among his many academic and professional accomplishments, Dr. Strasser is also a former member of the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools.

In September 2002, Dr Strasser was selected to lead the creation of the first medical school in Canada in 35 years—the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), now NOSM University. NOSM U is the first Canadian medical school established with an explicit social accountability mandate to improve the health of the people and communities of the region it serves.

Dr Strasser is one of the few Professors of Rural Health in the world. He is leading a growing body of research relating to socially accountable health professional education, recruitment and retention of health professionals, and rural health service delivery models.

After 17 years as NOSM Founding Dean, Roger relocated to New Zealand in 2020 to take up the position of Professor of Rural Health at the University of Waikato where he was leading the University’s Rural Health public engagement and research capacity building for New Zealand.

Prior to moving to Canada in 2002, Roger Strasser was the Head of the Monash University School of Rural Health in Australia and had an international role with the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) as inaugural Chair of the Working Party on Rural Practice from 1992-2004.

About Dr. Sarah Strasser

A medical graduate of the University of London, Doctor Sarah Strasser is a global leader in rural health and medical education. She has held academic leadership roles in Australia, Canada, Guyana and most recently as the Dean for Te Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She is internationally recognized for developing innovative health professional training programs for undergraduate, postgraduate and teacher training/faculty development in medicine and interprofessional health. Sarah was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2019 for her work in medical education and rural practice. She is passionate about family medicine, health equity and encouraging youth to consider health as a career.

In Canada, Doctor Sarah was one of the inaugural faculty members for the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and held a number of positions over fifteen years including Director of Phase 2 (when medical students undertake a year based in the community); Director of Faculty Development; and Head of Human Science Division.

In Australia, as Associate Dean she successfully led the development of new undergraduate medical programs at Flinders University in the Northern Territory and for the University of Queensland in Regional Queensland. She also held national roles in both the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as National Director of Rural Training and Indigenous Health Training (postgraduate), and as the National Medical Advisor for the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

Doctor Strasser acted as a consultant to the University of Guyana, School of Medicine, UOG SOM, to refresh the curriculum and help regain accreditation status, with successful outcomes. Subsequently, she undertook a consultancy working with the Guyanese Department of Education and the World Bank to assist in developing an assessment strategy and blueprint for UOG SOM.

Clinically, along with being a family physician, she has worked in Public Health and was the Associate Vice President Academics and Interprofessional Health at Health Sciences North, the teaching hospital for NOSM in Sudbury. She has a distinguished track record in research, most recently for the World Health Organization (WHO) to inform the update of the WHO Global Recommendations on Recruitment and Retention for Remote and Rural Health Professionals.