By Samira Balsara
Ryerson has secured $2 million to develop a proposal for a medical school in Brampton, according to university president Mohamed Lachemi.
The planning for the school will be led by the School of Medicine planning committee, which is chaired by vice-president, research and innovation, Steven Liss.
According to a statement released in March, the proposal will outline the school’s approach to health education, primary care and expanding the use of technology to meet patient needs.
In an email to The Eye, the university said that a proposed medical school will provide “more culturally respectful care to communities,” and focus on supporting seniors.
Third-year public health and safety student Ayaan Irfan, who lives in Brampton, is looking forward to a part of his school being so close to home.
“The collaboration of Ryerson with the City of Brampton will be beneficial as Brampton is a fast-growing city,” he said. “I am happy to hear about the proposal of the medical school and even happier that it will be in the same city that I reside.”
Irfan is currently in the process of applying to medical school. To him, a possible medical school at Ryerson will be beneficial to the future of Ontario’s health-care system and enhance the university itself.
“The addition of a school of medicine will definitely elevate the advancement of technology,” he said.” [It will take] inclusion and diversity at the university to another level as it will be the home to a wide variety of educational streams.”
But some health and science students have mixed feelings about the proposed medical school.
Third-year nursing student Emily Tegart said she thinks the proposal is an inspiring one for Ryerson’s health care and that the medical school would provide more opportunities for Canadian students. However, she is also concerned about the expense of a proposed medical school.
“I’m worried that more funding will go into the medical school than the other programs and that they might be more neglected,” Tegart said. “It’s already hard for the nursing program to get all their student’s placements.”
In March, The Eye reported on students in the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing who alleged there was a lack of accountability and communication within the program, as well as students who had experienced trouble finding clinical placements during COVID-19.
Although a proposed medical school would mostly impact students in health and science, students from other programs are also welcoming the idea of a possible medical school. Third-year business management undergrad Falak Almuzaini said she thinks the university’s reputation will benefit from a new medical school.
“It would attract more students to attend Ryerson who are passionate about the medical field. The school will also most likely receive more funding for research purposes which can help the community and improve Ryerson’s reputation,” she said.
Although Brampton is relatively far from Ryerson’s general campus, the school said there were a number of reasons for selecting Brampton as the location for the school of medicine.
In an email to The Eye, the school said Brampton is a city that has been “chronically underfunded.”
They added that Brampton “has been hit by a higher rate of occurrence of COVID-19,” and “transformation is required to improve access to health care with a special focus on emerging diseases and aging.”
Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi also echoed the university’s thoughts in a similar statement to The Eyeopener.
“The new medical school will not only dramatically enhance the health-care system in Brampton,” he said. “It will also make the foundation for a diverse pool of talent to dive into health care and health-care related sectors across our province.”
This is not the first collaboration between Brampton and Ryerson, as they have previously partnered with the City of Brampton on other endeavours such as the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst, Ryerson Venture Zone in Brampton and the Chang School of Continuing Education.
Consultations for the proposal are ongoing, with the university completing the first round in the summer. The consultations included weekly Zoom meetings with students, faculty, alumni and staff, as well as a webinar and questionnaire.
The next round of consultations will start early in the fall semester and will expand to include community members in Brampton. Ryerson also launched a student advisory council and applications for the council closed on Sept. 13th.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that applications for the student advisory council were open till Sept. 30. The applications instead closed on Sept. 13. The Eye regrets this error.