ADMIN DROPS THE MED-BOMB

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By Stacey Askew

Biz & Tech Editor

Ryerson will look to adopt a new health science programs and eventually a medical school, if one top administrator has his way.

“In the future we could have a medical school or at least we should get some life science programs. We have virtually all the components for life science already,” said Tas Venetsanopoulos, VP Research and Innovation.

He said the idea of a medical school has not been brought to the table because the government has yet to call for more training facilities.

However, he emphasized that a life science program will “probably be seen within the next five years … life science as well as more science is really something that is in the cards.”

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said he was not aware of any such ambitions. But he said it would not be unheard of for Toronto to open a medical school.

“In a city the size of Toronto, it’s very common to have multiple medical schools,” he said, adding, “we have not had discussions either internally, that I know about, or with the ministry on a medical school.”

Stalin Boctor, the chair of engineering, architecture and science, said Ryerson is not likely to acquire a medical school. “Medical schools are planned and approved by the Ministry,” Boctor said.

“We are talking about something called allied health sciences, which includes radiation technology, physiotherapy and biochemistry,” he added.

Venetsanopoulos said science at Ryerson could become a separate faculty sometime in the future as more programs are added, as has been the case at other universities.

“Ryerson started out as a polytechnic institute. As we expand and become a university our [program options] will become broader,” said Venetsanopoulos.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, having a pre-existing health science program would greatly increase Ryerson’s chances of being chosen as the next site for a medical school.

“In determining where to locate new spaces, the government considers such factors as a university’s capacity to provide high quality education, for example, a strong health science program,” Tanya Blazina, a senior media relations co-ordinator, said.

New spaces are expensive and the funds for classes and residency training need to be available before new spaces can be established.

Roger Strasser, the founding Dean of the Northern Ontario Medical School (NOMS), Canada’s newest medical school, doesn’t expect Ryerson to get a medical school soon.

“A medical school is not an overnight proposition,” he said.

Strasser said a perceived community need was the driving force for the commissioning of NOMS.

“There was a need in the community for medical schools,” which ultimately motivated the government to commission one in the North, where the doctor-to-patient ratio is notoriously high.

Ryerson currently has a few health-oriented programs, including nursing and nutrition.

The G. Raymond Chang school offers a midwifery program designed to teach foreign trained immigrants to practice their skills in Canada.

The head of the midwifery program, Holliday Tyson, said she does not see Ryerson getting a similar medical school for foreigners any time soon.

Continuing Education’s Traditional Chinese Medicine school, which has reported plans to offer a bachelor of science degree, declined to comment.

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