UPEI looking into medical school options, says president

The president of UPEI says the idea of adding a medical school at the university is "absolutely" being considered, but he says much more research needs to be done first. 

P.E.I. is the only province without a medical faculty. The idea of creating one in the province started to gain momentum during this year's federal election campaign, with the NDP making it a campaign promise — and Island candidates from various parties supporting the idea

"I think when the public talk about an issue, it's very important for a public institution like our university to take the conversation seriously, and figure out, is it doable or not," said UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, in an interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. 

Abd-El-Aziz said the university is currently in the examination phase, looking at if it would be possible to establish a medical faculty, and what it might look like.

Gathering information

Abd-El-Aziz said the university's research includes trying to figure out what kind of medical school would be needed on P.E.I., and what the relationships with other schools and provinces would look like.

As well as looking locally at the other Maritime provinces, Abd-El-Aziz said he is interested in looking at what has worked well in other countries, such as Ireland. 

CBC

And, he said, he expects there could be lessons to learn from the development of Canada's newest medical school, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, which was established in 2005 through a partnership between Laurentian and Lakehead universities. 

"We are gathering a lot of information," Abd-El-Aziz said. 

'Part of the solution'

Supporters of a medical school on P.E.I. have billed it as a possible solution to help alleviate P.E.I.'s doctor shortage.

Abd-El-Aziz said he personally does not think establishing a medical school would do much to help with the shortage in the short term, "because starting a medical school from A to Z will take a lot of time." 

"Will it help in attracting doctors to come to the Island? Probably it will. But I don't like to say that the medical school would be the solution. It's a part of the solution."

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