THUNDER BAY — A new partnership gives Lakehead University students facing challenges getting into medical school the chance to study medicine in a tropical location.
Lakehead and the Trinity Medical Sciences University – located on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent – say the collaboration provides LU students a unique opportunity for global education and a competitive advantage.
Along with a waived application fee and scholarships available exclusively to Lakehead students, Trinity offers a streamlined admissions process that grants conditional acceptance to applicants that meet its requirements.
This will significantly decrease the amount of time and effort it usually takes to complete and process medical school applications.
Lakehead officials say Trinity reached out to them, and that the agreement has nothing to do with the Ontario government's decision earlier this year to make the Northern Ontario School of Medicine a stand-alone university
NOSM will maintain a physical presence at LU where it leases space.
"I don't see any connection at all, frankly," said Vice-Provost / International James Aldridge.
"There's 10 or more times as many applicants to medical schools in Ontario, including NOSM, as there are spaces available. It's not the kind of student who would be going to NOSM who would be interested in going to school in the Caribbean."
Aldridge explained that the program will be of interest to domestic or international students who are unable to get into medical schools in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada.
In addition to an easier pathway to acceptance, Trinity will allow selected students in Lakehead's undergraduate science program the opportunity each year to participate in a mini-clerkship session at its learning facilities and teaching hospital in Warner Robins, Georgia.
Students will attend lectures with Trinity students and join in clinical rotations. They will meet Trinity faculty and hospital leadership to learn firsthand what it's like to attend medical school.
Warren Ison, Canadian regional director of admissions for Trinity, said most medical schools don't allow students to even touch a patient until their third or fourth year, but "Trinity recognizes the value in hands-on experience, which is why students begin working directly with patients beginning their very first term."
Ison said "Our partnership with Lakehead means we will be able to produce more experienced doctors who can practise in Canada and contribute to the correction of the ongoing physician shortage."
Aldridge, however, noted that there are also international students at Lakehead who have no intention of staying in Canada to work
He added that the arrangement with TMSU provides another option for students to get their medical degrees in a location where they can still qualify to do their residences at North American hospitals.
The agreement between the two schools also allows Trinity students the possibility to transition into several of Lakehead's undergraduate degree programs.
That gives LU the potential to recruit more international students to study in Thunder Bay.
NOTE: A previous version of this story has been corrected to clarify that the decision to make NOSM a stand-alone university was made by the Ontario government