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Northern Ontario School of Medicine graduate Tiffany Oddleifson says physician assistances will be helping take some of the load off of the strained health-care system.
Oddleifson recently graduated from the two-year Bachelor of Science Physician Assistance program at NOSM in December. She and 16 other students were the first to graduate from the program.
The program is in collaboration with University of Toronto’s Department of Family and the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences.
Oddleifson, who now works at St. Joseph’s Care Group, said she wanted to be a PA because she wanted to do something in the medical field.
Having a background in kinesiology, she said she wasn’t sure if she wanted to spend another four to six years for more schooling and thought the PA program was the best option.
“I think the PA program is one of the answers to the health care strain,” Oddleifson said.
“I believe PA’s can improve patient outcomes. It’s more efficient for doctors. If they are seeing patients that are more acute you can spend the time with less acute patients or address any issues that come up. I think doctors will be able to see more patients and have better quality of care.”
The partnership with University of Toronto allows the students to spend time both in Northern and Southern Ontario in their second year of school. This allows students to stay in their home communities and not travel elsewhere to go to school.
The majority of the curriculum is delivered online in order to accommodate students.
Oddleifson said she was thankful for that.
Gordon Porter, vice-president of medical academic affairs with the Regional Health Science Centre, said the program has evolved for a number of years and the agreement with University of Toronto has been in place for the past two years.
He said they take students from all different backgrounds not just medicine.
“The students’ core training can be online here in Thunder Bay but it’s through the Michener Institute initially,” Porter said. “Half their clinical placements are done here in Northern Ontario and the other half in Southern Ontario.”
He said PA will be used in a variety of ways by helping family physicians and primary care givers see patients and by doing so will reduce wait times for everyone.
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