Cape Breton University pitches its own medical school

Cape Breton University has launched its own campaign to bring a new medical school to Sydney, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)
Cape Breton University has launched its own campaign to bring a new medical school to Sydney, N.S. (Matthew Moore/CBC - image credit)

Cape Breton University has launched a media campaign that it hopes will drum up support for the creation of a new medical school in Nova Scotia.

The university's proposal puts forward a plan to train doctors for rural practices at CBU, while establishing a collaborative medical clinic for 10,000 patients.

As it stands, students who want to study medicine in Nova Scotia must enrol in classes offered by Dalhousie University.

CBU president David Dingwall said the business case for the initiative is the tens of thousands of Nova Scotians who don't have a family doctor.

"We just think it's a no-brainer in terms of trying to address the massive [doctor] shortage we have in this province," Dingwall said in an interview with Information Morning Cape Breton.

"The essential element in our health-care system is primary care. We have a lack of docs in primary care and we have bitten into the apple to try to facilitate a solution to that particular problem."

CBU has not attached a price tag to the project, but Dingwall says it will need support from both the community and the Nova Scotia government.

The university's new website www.cbumedcampus.ca is collecting messages in favour of establishing a medical school in Cape Breton.

On a list of work completed so far, the university says it has spent a year discussing the project with more than 100 local doctors. CBU has also piloted a program with Dalhousie University to fund five medical school seats for students from rural Nova Scotia.

Dingwall said having CBU create its own faculty of medicine has been tossed about since 2018, but talks are now ongoing with an unnamed university about becoming a partner in the project.

"There's a time frame here, but the province would have to be on side, [our] partner would have to be onside, and the community has to be onside and that's why we're outreaching to the community to see if we would get their support."

As of September, there were more than 110,000 Nova Scotians listed on the province's Need a Family Practice Registry.

CBU Faculty Association president Adango Miadonye said he believes the establishment of a medical school in Cape Breton would help attract and retain new doctors to the area.

"The idea is to help alleviate that problem. It's a good thing generally and the student body will increase as well."

Miadonye said the university must consider several factors before getting the project off the ground.

For starters, he says, money is needed for new infrastructure and staff to teach the rural doctors of tomorrow.

MORE TOP STORIES