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UPEI president provides update on first intake date for the UPEI Faculty of Medicine

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concept rendering of health education building under construction

In a message to the University community and UPEI Faculty of Medicine stakeholders, Dr. Greg Keefe, interim president and vice-chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island provided an update on the development of the joint medical degree program with Memorial University of Newfoundland. President Keefe announced that the first intake of students has been delayed until August 2025. Originally, the University had planned to admit its first students a year earlier.

“The development of the medical program is multifaceted and revolves around three main pillars: infrastructure, accreditation and curriculum, and health system integration,” said President Keefe. “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,” he added. “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 group of students to 2025.” 

This change will also allow UPEI and Health PEI 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 will not be required until 2029, although the new program will support capacity building in the interim.

The University advised the Government of PEI, Health PEI, the Medical Society of PEI, and other stakeholders of this news earlier today.

“This was welcomed news and I support UPEI’s decision to delay the first intake of students into the medical school,” said Dr. Michael Gardam, CEO of Health PEI. “Adding a medical school to PEI is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the province and something that cannot be rushed.”

Dr. Margaret Steele, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial and co-chair of the steering committee with Dr. Keefe for the joint program, shared a similar message with the Memorial campus community.

“After learning we could not guarantee when the new health education facility would be completed, we realized we would not be able to meet the accreditation and quality assurance process milestones we needed for a 2024 student intake,” said Dr. Steele.

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). The accreditation and approval of a joint medical degree program between two universities is a new proposition for all three bodies. The program will initially start under Memorial’s accreditation and expand to a fully joint program.

The UPEI Faculty of Medicine will play an important part in supporting the health system on the PEI, explained President Keefe.

“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. And, as part of the development of the medical program, UPEI has already increased intakes for both its four-year and accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. The expanded onsite clinic and patient medical home will add much needed capacity to the system. All of this must be done against a backdrop of careful planning and execution within the capacity of the PEI health system.”

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