The Northern Ontario Rural Medicine (NORM) Committee

Endorsed In: 
May, 2018
Paper Type: 
Position Paper

Download: Click here to access the full paper


  • Samantha Bruzzese (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Anabelle Dufour Lamontagne (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Brittany Graham (McMaster University)
  • Rachel Greer (McMaster University)
  • Teaghan Koster (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Danielle Robinson (Queen's University)
  • Niharika Shahi (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Shelby Wallace (Western University)
  • Sharon Yeung (Queen's University)
  • Josée Malette (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)
  • Benjamin Cassidy (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)

Background: ​

The significant shortage of physicians in rural and remote communities continues to be a challenge for health care provision in the province, particularly in Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) 13 and 14 of Northern Ontario. Additionally, many rural areas of Southern Ontario face similar disparities in access to certain aspects of medical care. One of the most effective Northern and rural physician recruitment strategies documented thus far is based on the principle that physicians from rural communities and trained in rural communities are far more likely to practice in rural communities. OMSA has the capacity to facilitate these efforts by improving access to 1) urban-based professional development opportunities for NOSM students, and 2) Northern and rural training opportunities for urban medical students. In addition to their contribution to the medical education of future rural physicians, OMSA has the capacity to address some of the health care disparities directly through student-led health advocacy initiatives.


  • Formally adopt the Northern Ontario and Rural Medicine (NORM) committee as an established committee with the same rights, privileges, supports and considerations given any other OMSA committee.
  • Support the NORM committee in addressing the following recommendations outlined below.
  • Recommendations to enhance Northern and rural medical student engagement:
    • Reasonable efforts should be made to electronically live stream conferences and other events to allow NOSM and rural students to attend on their respective campuses and/or on placements at other rural locations across Northern and rural Ontario.
    • Explore the reallocation of OMSA funds to new travel bursaries for students attending events from rural and remote regions to offset the cost burden for northern students.
    • Create policies that ensure existing travel bursaries are awarded within an equitable fashion. Funds should be used to offset proportional costs of travel and not delivered via a single standard amount per person regardless of circumstance.
    • NORM recommends the creation and delivery of a survey to northern students to gain a sense of the true barriers that limit their engagement in provincial events and committees. This information could better inform recommendations for change to increase equity in access to events and opportunities for northern students.
  • Recommendations to enhance urban medical student engagement:
    • Create opportunities for urban-based medical students to interact with a rural physician mentor.
    • Create opportunities for urban-based medical students to have exposure to the scope of rural practice without having the burden of travel, accommodation, or expense by organizing a teleconferenced lecture series featuring rural physician speakers.
    • Create a uniformed approach to rural medicine advocacy by engaging Rural Medicine Interest Groups at southern Ontario medical schools.
  • Recommendations to address Northern and rural health inequities in Ontario:
    • Develop a Rural Doc Spotlight series to highlight the work of generalist physicians in Northern and rural Ontario communities. The goal of this series would be to help students gain an understanding and appreciation for generalist family practice and hopefully contribute to Northern and rural physician recruitment.
    • Develop a single document consolidating information from recruiters and other sources to address financial and logistical questions regarding full time and locum practice in Northern and rural communities. This document could serve to help students considering Northern or rural practice career plan.
    • Assist in the development of a better network of communication and collaboration between Northern, rural and remote physicians and medical students. Building these relationships will serve as a source of mentorship and recruitment for students interested in rural practice and inform the committee's efforts in advocacy work.
    • Engage Ontario medical students and community stakeholders in advocacy work to bring attention the health disparities and challenges in Northern and rural Ontario, as well as with its Francophone population, and the important work of physicians working in these areas.
  • Recommendations to address indigenous health inequities in Ontario:
    • Create opportunities for medical students to deepen their understanding of the health of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
    • Promote medical student involvement in advocacy initiatives to address Indigenous health inequities, including those derived from social determinants of health.
    • Foster strategies to increase the number of Indigenous students in medical school and ensure that current Indigenous medical students are adequately supported.
    • Develop meaningful, reciprocal partnerships with Indigenous communities, health organizations and relevant stakeholders to ensure that OMSA’s efforts to address Indigenous health inequities are community-driven.