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Medical school appoints new dean, CEO

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The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sarita Verma as its dean and CEO effective July 1.

The NOSM board of directors unanimously approved the appointment on Dec. 12.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Verma to NOSM and to the wider campus of Northern Ontario,” said Dr. Pierre Zundel, chair of the NOSM board of directors and interim president and vice-chancellor of Laurentian University in Sudbury.

“Dr. Verma's passion, vision, and experience will continue to propel NOSM toward world leadership in distributed, community-engaged, and socially-accountable medical education.”

Dr. Verma currently is Vice-President, Education at the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) and until January, 2016 was Associate Vice-Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions and Special Advisor to the Dean of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

Formerly the deputy dean of the Faculty of Medicine (2008-15) and Associate Vice-Provost, Health Professions Education (2010-15), she is a family physician who originally trained as a lawyer at the University of Ottawa (1981) and later completed her medical degree at McMaster University (1991).

“I'm grateful to the board for the opportunity to lead this incredible medical school, and honoured to continue with the momentum created in the past 15 years,” said Dr. Verma.

“I am deeply committed to serving the people of Northern Ontario, to leading progress in indigenous and francophone health and cultivating innovation in clinical research,” she added.

Dr. Verma will become the second dean and CEO of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine after Dr. Roger Strasser leaves the role on June 30.

“We welcome Dr. Verma to her new role and recognize the incredible impact Dr. Strasser has made over the past 17 years in establishing NOSM with the goal of making access to quality health care a reality for all Northern Ontarians,” said NOSM board vice-chair Dr. Moira McPherson, who also is president and vice-chancellor of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

NOSM developed an innovative model of distributed, community-engaged medical education that draws on the commitment, expertise, and generosity of people across the north to address the health-care needs of under-served populations.

“I intend to build on these important relationships, with our communities, our partners in health care and education, key stakeholders, and the people of the north, to improve the health and well-being of the people of our region,” Dr. Verma pledged.

Under Dr. Strasser's leadership, NOSM became the first medical school in the world in which all medical students spend their entire third year (eight months) in a community in Northern Ontario.

NOSM also is the first medical school in which all the medical students undertake a four-week immersive cultural experience living and learning in indigenous communities.

Today, more than 90 communities across Northern Ontario contribute to educating NOSM learners and more than 1,700 faculty members.

In 2017, NOSM contributed an estimated $122 million-$134 million in economic activity in Northern Ontario.

“I congratulate Dr. Verma on her appointment and commend the NOSM board on the successful recruitment of such a high-calibre appointee,” said Dr. Strasser.

“It would be hard for me to think of anyone better suited to be my successor.”

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