Why a UPEI Faculty of Medicine? Why now?
Building on the strength and foundation of innovative programming and community and industry partnerships, the University of Prince Edward Island is ideally situated to help shape the future of health care in the province.
The need for a Faculty of Medicine in PEI is driven by the low number of physicians per capita in PEI, the challenges with the current number of seats available to PEI students to enter medical school, and the commitment of the Government of PEI to a robust and responsive health care system.
The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic have further illustrated why the timing is right for UPEI to develop a Faculty of Medicine now. The pandemic forced all jurisdictions to re-imagine the delivery of primary health care and how medical students are prepared for what will need to be the nimble, holistic, and comprehensive health care systems of tomorrow. Jurisdictions across Canada are examining if current physician education capacity meets societal needs. COVID-19 has not only affected human health, but has also had repercussions on all aspects of society and the economy. It will be important to build these learnings into a cutting-edge medical degree program.
The new Faculty of Medicine at UPEI will initially provide seats for 20 Island students annually, including at least one seat for an Indigenous student, beginning in August 2024. Given the size of PEI’s population, the emphasis will be on generalists, with an ideal mix of 50:50 family doctors and general specialists. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, a new curriculum will be developed to adequately prepare the doctors of the future.
UPEI and Memorial are working with PEI physicians, Health PEI, the Government of PEI, and other stakeholders on the important issue of developing clinical opportunities for undergraduate students. The expanded UPEI Health and Wellness Centre clinic is one such opportunity.
UPEI’s focus will be on developing sufficient regional capacity for residency placements among all the medical programs in Atlantic Canada. We will also look at the issues pertaining to postgraduate education including capacity, the needs of PEI, and government funding.
The new UPEI Faculty of Medicine will be built upon a number of pillars that align with the PEI government’s vision for health care:
- Role of nursing and paramedicine education in primary health care and preparing students for future unexpected health care challenges,
- Integrating physical health care education with mental health education,
- One Health, and the interconnectivity between animal and human health and the environment,
- Impact of climate change on human health,
- Family medicine delivered through collaborative practice.