Innovator Grants

The OMSA Innovator Grants are a part of the OMSA strategy to provide financial support to the development of creative new student initiatives. We encourage emerging physician leaders to implement novel ideas to enhance the medical educational environment or healthcare field. If you have an idea that will showcase medical student innovation, we want to hear about it. Grants are offered annually and will award up to $1500 to three successful projects. Efforts will be made to select recipients from each school; however, this cannot be guaranteed. Applications are due by  Friday, April 26, 2024​, 2024 at 11:59 pm ET.

Here’s how to apply:

  1. Read the application information sheet found here.
  2. Complete the Innovator Grant Application 2023 found here.
  3. Submit your application here.

*Note: As of September 2021, all grant applicants must be registered/active members of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). This requires both online registration and paid annual dues of $10. Please visit OMA My Account and log in to see your membership status. If you have a dues balance of $0.00 then you are considered registered and active! If you have an outstanding balance, please make the appropriate payment by following the prompts. Applications from non-registered/non-active applicants will be disqualified. Should you require special consideration or if you feel that this membership may be cost-prohibitive, please email the VP Finance ( and cc the VP EDI ( OMSA strives to support each and every Ontario Medical Student and we commit to providing a tailored solution that meets your needs.

Please contact the OMSA VP Finance at with any inquiries.


Selection Criteria

Each application will be blinded by the OMSA VP Finance before being distributed to members of the OMSA Grants Committee (which is made up of rotating members of OMSA Council). Each application will be marked by at least two separate individuals using this the below rubric.  Every effort will be made so that OMSA Council members are not marking the applications of students from their home school. A final average mark will be calculated for each application by the VP Finance and the final winners will be selected based on their scores. An effort will also be made to award the grants equally amongst schools; however, this may not always be possible. 

Past Year Recipients

We were amazed by the response of the Ontario Medical School community in sending us their project ideas and initiatives. Of all the projects we received, our independent committee anonymously reviewed and awarded the grants to 6 projects. A total of $7000 was funded in 2018 to our winners. Please read below to see the projects that were chosen to receive this funding.

2021 Recipients

Winner 1: Creative Connection (uOttawa & Western):

Creative Connection is a federal nonprofit that pairs volunteer performers with people in long-term care facilities, retirement homes, and hospitals across Canada to provide virtual social interaction with the objective of reducing social isolation among seniors. Volunteers use video calling platforms to provide live musical performances, group activities, as well as education on health and well-being in 1-on-1 and small-group formats. To date, performances have included musical concerts, paint nights, trivia nights, and health promotion seminars. In facilitating this intergenerational interaction, Creative Connection aims to reduce morbidity and mortality that may result from social isolation by providing free social engagement from the comfort of anyone’s home while also bypassing the geographical and financial barriers that have been proven to hinder social interventions for older adults.

Winner 2: Virtual Reality Surgery Simulator (McMaster):

This project aims to develop a versatile and scalable virtual reality (VR) training simulator for common surgical procedures in a variety of specialties. By combining the immersive and interactive power of VR with medical education, this project will raise the bar for medical simulation by multiple magnitudes and add another educational tool that is much more engaging and realistic. Whether OR time is reduced due to lockdowns or other commitments, VR will help residents maintain their skill and review important concepts before returning to the operative environment, as well as allow medical students to try out a variety of specialties before the real thing.

Winner 3: ClerkCompanion Mobile App (Toronto):

ClerkCompanion is a mobile application intended to support the transition to clerkship for new clinical clerks. We aim to simplify and demystify the experience of being a clerk, by providing tools and resources that complement your existing clinical knowledge and skills, such as note templates, how to write your first order sets, what to expect (and what is expected of you) on different rotations, etc. This is all presented in a simple, clean interface, and is a perfect addition to the clinical resources you already have on your phone!

Winner 4: StartEx- The Startup Experience (Queens):

StartEx, The Startup Experience, is a student-led program that partners Canadian medical students from across the country with Canadian healthtech startups for a six-month immersive internship program. Students are grouped into pods of five, which combines students from first year to clinical clerks, and each pod is matched to a Canadian startup. In partnership with their paired startup, pods then work on a variety of relevant projects. All projects are currently done in a remote fashion, which facilitates the collaboration of students from across Canada amidst the restrictions put forth by the COVID19 pandemic.

Winner 5: PPE Portraits Canada (uOttawa, Western & McMaster):

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Portrait Project is a hybrid art and medical intervention designed to improve patient care and team dynamics by humanizing the alienating appearance of PPE, through warm and smiling headshot portraits fixed to the outside of a healthcare worker's PPE. The PPE Portrait Project was created by Mary Beth Heffernan in response to the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of students who organize the Intensive Care Unit Bridge Program in Montreal reached out to Mary Beth Heffernan for her guidance to help implement this initiative into Montreal’s hospitals. The project quickly expanded to include other university students across the country to form PPE Portraits Canada.

Winner 6: Art & Poetry Anthology: Highlighting Marginalized Voiced in Medicine (McMaster):

The many systemic barriers to attending medical school perpetuate the underrepresentation of students with marginalized identities in medicine. Despite overcoming these hurdles to enter medical school, students continue to experience marginalization through various aspects of their experience, including feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome that result from underrepresentation. In creating this art & poetry anthology, we hope to foster a sense of community and belonging for medical students with historically marginalized identities. We also wish to share these stories with the broader medical community to highlight the experiences of marginalized students in medicine and encourage solidarity amongst students.

2020 Recipients

Winner 1: ​Incorporating Skin of Colour into Undergraduate Medical Education (Queens):

We are proposing the creation of an accessible, interactive learning resource for medical students to learn how to recognize common dermatological presentations in skin of colour. While skin of colour ought to be taught as a normal variant in dermatology, students are taught about clinical signs and symptoms almost exclusively in patients with lighter skin tones. However, dermatological conditions often present differently in racialized patients. Unfamiliarity with presentations in skin of colour can lead to misdiagnoses. Furthermore, many common dermatology treatments can create adverse effects in highly pigmented skin. As increasing numbers of the Canadian population are not fair skinned, it is important that our learning materials reflect this, so that all our future patients can receive an appropriate standard of care.

Winner 2: Decolonizing Global Health (Western):

This project aims to give medical students across Canada a forum to productively discuss issues of race, gender, colonialism, and structural violence in a global health.  The conference “Decolonizing Global Health” is born out of a movement currently taking place on campuses in North America. Seeing as medical students will play a large role in shaping the field of global health in the near future, we hope to provide a space to discuss the inherently political and historical nature of the discipline.

Winner 3: Internal Medicine Enrichment & Development Program (IMED) (uOttawa):

The Internal Medicine Enrichment & Development Program (IMED) offers a 2-week exploration program that exposes pre-clerkship medical students to a variety of subspecialties in Internal Medicine, including endocrinology, hematology, cardiology, and more! The goal is for medical students to gain clinical exposure to the variety of IM subspecialties, learn about their lifestyles & scopes of practice, and consolidate their pre-clerkship knowledge in a clinical context through case-based learning. Participants are matched with a staff physician in a different subspecialty each morning for an observership, after which all attendees reconvene at lunch for a career talk and afternoon hands-on or discussion-based workshops.

Winner 4: Clinical Skills Education Platform (CSEP) (McMaster):

This project aims to produce educational clinical skills videos that will be published on a modern, open access, up-to-date website. We will create two key types of videos: videos that run through an entire OSCE-style exam (e.g. respiratory examination), and videos that focus on teaching specific maneuvers (e.g. diaphragmatic excursion) including pearls and common mistakes. We believe that with this platform, we can complement learning in and outside of the classroom, help students become more successful with OSCEs, and ultimately create highly skilled future physicians.

Winner 5: This Clerkship Life (Podcast) (Queens):

This Clerkship Life is a podcast about life in clerkship and all the things that come with it. From highlighting individual perspectives to exploring experiences central to being a clerk, we aim to amplify the stories of medical students across the country throughout their clerkship training.

Winner 6: MacSIM - McMaster Medical School’s Simulation Workshop (McMaster):

This project is a student-led endeavour to deliver simulation-based education to medical students as part of the formal pre-clerkship curriculum. We aim to provide medical students with a unique opportunity to directly practice medical decision-making, to apply learned knowledge, and to receive feedback on their skills in a standardized, real-time simulation of complex clinical cases.

2019 Recipients

Winner 1: The Essential Skills Program (ESP): A Peer-Assisted Learning Program for Developing Technical Skills in Medical Students (Toronto):

This program aims to address the challenges medical students face achieving competency in basic suturing and technical skills at the undergraduate medical level. We aim to achieve this goal by providing a structured, longitudinal opportunity for students to increase time spent on deliberate practice - practice that will help in clerkship and beyond. The Essential Skills Program utilizes a low resource design consisting of peer-assisted learning and video recordings for feedback, using tele-simulation and video-recording devices. 

Winner 2: Family Planning Longitudinal Education Program (Toronto):

This project is a 3-part educational program to increasing medical students’ interest and exposure to hands-on skills in family planning and reproductive rights. The 3 initiatives include an intrauterine device insertion workshop, manual vacuum aspiration workshop, and an observership program in a sexual health clinic. The objective is to provide a collaborative, participatory environment for medical students to explore these frequently stigmatized topics within medical education.

Winner 3: Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) (Ottawa):

This project aims to promote health literacy and enhance access to healthcare among homeless and vulnerable populations across Ottawa, through educational talks aimed at health promotion and needs assessment research to identify areas of concern. This student-run initiative is an invaluable opportunity for medical students to develop the necessary skills for effectively communicating and advocating for the health needs of these patients while also fulfilling an unmet need in the community.

Winner 4: Stress and Anxiety Workshop (Queen’s):

This project aims to provide the Kingston community with stress and anxiety education workshops that are designed to teach participants how to differentiate between healthy and unhealthy stress, help them identify what causes stress and anxiety in their life and review strategies to manage stress through collaboration with Kingston Community Health Center (KCHC). We hope to alleviate resource, training, and time constraints among KCHC's primary care providers to respond to community needs in a manner that is sustainable and that fosters community connectedness.

Winner 5: MyLingual MD (Toronto): 

This project aims to improve medical vocabulary in non-English languages to facilitate physician-patient communication. This publicly-accessible learning tool, provided as a mobile application, also intends to strengthen the understanding of medicine from other cultures while providing a learning experience for the involved medical students. 

Winner 6: Dear MD to Be (Toronto): 

This project aims to create a podcast series and online presence for Canadian medical students on the importance and value of diversity within the medical community. Episodes will feature conversations between medical students and physicians who come from diverse and minority backgrounds, specifically detailing their candid experiences and medical school journeys. 

2017 Recipients

Winner 1: Breaking Down Barriers: a Tool to Address LGBT2-SQ healthcare in Sudbury, Ontario (NOSM):

This project aims to collectively develop and provide a means of self-advocacy for the LGBT2-SQ population in Sudbury, Ontario, as this is population long identified with large health care gaps linked to discrimination, poor knowledge by providers, stigmatization, and poor access to providers. 

Winner 2: Found Stories (Western)

This project aims to develop narrative medicine among medical students, trainees, and all health care providers at Western University. The project aims to create an event that will highlight the importance of narrative medicine and personal history in the process of medical training, as well as connect students and other learners together so they can share their experiences. 

Winner 3: Inner City Health Longitudinal Experience (Toronto)

This project will be working to create a longitudinal pre-clerkship seminar series at the the Inter-professional Medical and Allied Groups for Improving Neighbourhood Environment (IMAGINE) - a student-run community health initiative aimed at promoting and providing free, holistic healthcare services to marginalized and underserved populations in downtown Toronto.

Winner 4: MedTalks (Ottawa)

This project is a pilot teaching initiative launched to give uOttawa medical students the opportunity to teach material to undergraduate students. This idea stems from the CanMEDs' Scholar competency which aims to develop a physician's ability to contribute to the learning of others, whether it is colleagues, patients, other health professionals, or students. 

Winner 5: Financial Management in Medicine (Ottawa)

This project aims to operate as a student run program that will meet periodically throughout the school year to offer seminars and workshops which will facilitate the education of medical students on a diverse range of financial related matters. Such an initiative is necessary as the current financial climate has seen a sharp increase over the previous decade in the amount of debt that the current generation of graduating medical students are expected to pay back.