British Columbia investing in family doctors, moves forward with a new medical school at SFU

medical school. Image credit: Unsplash/Eben Kassaye

Fraser (BC)/CMEDIA: With reportedly the new medical school at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia (BC) moving forward with funding for space and operations, as well as a proposed three-year curriculum model and a founding dean, more family doctors will be trained faster.  

“We’re training a new generation of doctors with a focus on family medicine to provide the services we need in our communities. This investment in the first entirely new medical school in Western Canada in 55 years will mean more family doctors graduating each year to provide care for people,” said BC Premier David Eby.

The existing building space at SFU’s Surrey campus, as well as a leased space nearby would be the interim site which will be designed, renovated and equipped by SFU to accommodate classrooms, labs, and faculty and staff office space.

Building on a previous $14 million for startup and planning, the medical school is being supported by the Province through $33.7 million in capital funding for interim space, alongside $27 million in operational funding through Budget 2024.

“The new medical school is a vital part of training more family doctors and meeting the health-care needs of people in British Columbia,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “This government is focused on delivering results, and through this interim space and the operational funding to support this medical school at SFU’s Surrey campus, we’re taking action to train the doctors of tomorrow and build the primary care workforce for all of B.C.”

Focusing on primary care, the medical school will serve to leverage the university’s strength in community engagement, strong partnerships with the First Nations Health Authority, Fraser Health Authority, other provincial health authorities and the practice community.

Following a three-year, competency-based model, the proposed curriculum will incorporate a minimum of 130 weeks of instruction.

While ensuring cultural safety and humility embedded throughout by collaboration with First Nations and Métis knowledge systems and perspectives.

“Taking action to increase access to primary care for people in B.C. is a top priority of our government,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “By establishing a new medical school at SFU – the first in Western Canada in more than half a century – with a focus on family medicine and training the next generations of physicians…building an inclusive public health-care system that people can count on.”

The establishment of a school of medicine was formally approved in May 2024 by SFU’s senate and board of governors.

In coordination with the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools, the school is working toward candidate status with its preliminary goal of accreditation by fall 2025.

The school will have approval to recruit its first class to start in summer 2026 subject to the successful completion of planned accreditation stages within this timeframe.

“This milestone for the School of Medicine…for SFU, Surrey and our province..effective, accessible, inclusive and culturally safe…educate the next generation of physicians and make a difference for British Columbians in communities across the province,” said Joy Johnson, president and vice-chancellor, Simon Fraser University. “

Dr. David J. Price, an alumnus of the UBC faculty of medicine, was approved July 4, 2024 as the founding dean for the medical school by the SFU’s board.

Price practised comprehensive family medicine, including obstetrics and palliative care, in Vancouver for more than a decade and as a nationally recognized leader in family medicine and primary care, has held faculty and leadership roles in the department of family medicine at McMaster University since 2000.

As a complement to the work the Province is doing to train, recruit and retain more family physicians, the medical school at SFU’s goal is to meet the challenges people in British Columbia are facing.

As part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy, training and retaining new physicians focuses on 70 key actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers in the province, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.

The StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan enables the province to make education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help prepare the people of B.C. for the jobs of today and tomorrow.