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.

SFU will create a program where medical students and residents learn in team-based primary care settings, which are patient-centered 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

Next steps

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.

We are scheduling faculty, research faculty, staff and Indigenous community dialogues for March and April 2023, beginning with an online session for faculty, staff and students on March 2, 3-4:30 p.m. 

More information about registration will be available here during the week of February 13. Also, check back here regularly for future updates about other community dialogue sessions and detailed information about how you can participate.

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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.