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Message from the President: Update on UPEI Faculty of Medicine and first intake date for the joint medical degree program

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concept rendering of health education building under construction

The following message was also distributed to UPEI faculty and staff by email on February 16, 2023.

Dear members of the University community and valued stakeholders,

While I recently provided updates to the UPEI Board of Governors, Senate, and campus community on the development of the UPEI Faculty of Medicine and the joint medical degree program with Memorial University of Newfoundland (Memorial), there have been further developments that I wanted to share with you.

The development of the medical program is multifaceted and revolves around three main pillars: infrastructure, accreditation, and health system integration. Admission of the first cohort of students depends on achieving milestones in each of these areas.

To meet accreditation timelines, we needed to guarantee by the end of this month that the on-campus facility would be complete by summer of 2024. With the late start to the construction process, coupled with challenges related to winter construction in our environment, we are unable to do this.

We are, therefore, moving the admission date for the first cohort of students to 2025. This change also allows us greater flexibility to assess and respond to the results of the study of PEI’s health system capacity to integrate medical learners. With the new timeline, residency programs to support the new program would not be required until 2029, although we would support capacity building in the interim.

The on-campus facility includes space that will be utilized for training in various health professions at the University, including nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and paramedics, among others. The design includes extensive clinical-skills and simulation space that will support other on-campus interprofessional health education, as well as continuing education opportunities for physicians in the community, medical residents, nurses, other health care providers and community-based first responders such as firefighters.

The facility will also include a clinic designed to serve 10,000 patients from the campus and broader Island community. This patient medical home will focus on collaborative health care as a model for medical learners, as well as other health professionals.

The accreditation of medical faculties requires approval through the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS), and in the Maritimes, quality assurance approval through the Atlantic Advisory Committee on Health Human Resources (AACHHR) and Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC). Numerous committees have been established to build the joint curriculum, determine admissions processes, and develop programing for learner wellbeing and success, among other components. The first cohort of UPEI Faculty of Medicine will be under the Memorial Faculty of Medicine’s accreditation as an interim step on the journey to a joint medical degree program at UPEI.

With the focus of the UPEI Faculty of Medicine being on family practice and general specialties, we are very fortunate to have the partnership with Memorial University, which in 2022 was awarded, for the ninth time in the past 20 years, the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada “Keith Award” for having the largest number of graduates practicing in rural Canada for the most recent 10 years after graduation. 

A substantive aspect of medical education occurs in the community—in hospitals, patient medical homes and primary health care centres, and emergency rooms, etc. This integration into the health system begins early in the program, becomes more substantial in later undergraduate years and is most significant in postgraduate, residency programs. UPEI has been working with a strategic health system integration committee (SHSIC), which includes representation from provincial government departments, Health PEI, Medical Society of PEI, and Memorial, to examine integration of medical learning into the PEI health system. Recently UPEI and Health PEI, in consultation with our SHSIC partners, issued a request for proposals to assess and analyze PEI’s health system capacity to integrate medical learners.

While it will be several years before UPEI Faculty of Medicine students enter clerkships or residencies, the goal of the project is to map out a comprehensive, phased plan to implement undergraduate and post-graduate medical education at UPEI and any necessary supports provided by the PEI health system, University, and others. Outcomes of this study will also inform timelines for when the system will have capacity to deliver important components such as additional residency seats.

The UPEI Faculty of Medicine, which will offer a joint medical degree program with Memorial, will play an important part in supporting the health system on the PEI:

  • The facility under construction at UPEI will support current and future training needs for a variety of health professions and practitioners in our community.
  • Increases in physician numbers through recruitment efforts, and over time, additional home-grown physicians should provide much needed human resources.
  • As part of the medical program development, UPEI has already increased intakes for both our four-year and accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs.
  • The expanded onsite clinic/patient medical home will add much needed capacity to the system.

I thank all of those who are helping to develop the new Faculty and joint Doctor of Medicine program. It is important that this development is done against a backdrop of careful planning and execution to ensure success within the capacity of the PEI health system.




GREG KEEFE, DVM, MSc, MBA (he/him)
President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim)

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