SGUSOM Secures Canadian Clinical Affiliation

After many months of negotiations, St. George’s University has secured a formal affiliation agreement for a clinical program in Canada.

Beginning January 2010, St. George’s University School of Medicine will officially add Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) to its impressive list of clinical affiliates.  A pilot program will allow SGUSOM students in their senior year to continue their medical training at Vancouver General Hospital by rotating through psychiatry for a six week elective.

Dr. Matthew Myatt, an SGUSOM graduate and Director, Canadian Clinical Program Development, played an integral role in securing this significant partnership.  “A formal agreement with a Canadian hospital will now open doors for future affiliations in other provinces and greater opportunities for Canadian medical students at St. George’s”, he said.  Dr. Myatt explained that this process, albeit challenging, was essential.  Although several SGU graduates have obtained residencies in Canada, it is a very difficult process.  While not official, it is almost a requirement for residency to participate in Canadian rotations and obtain a reference letter from a practicing Canadian physician.  This, combined with a lengthy application process, extra examinations, and associated fees, makes obtaining residency challenging.

Through the collaborative efforts of many individuals including Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean of the School of Medicine, Robert Ryan, Associate Dean of Enrolment Planning, and SGU’s Dr. Robert Jordan, St. George’s University is well on its way to expanding its strong clinical program in Canada.  Dr. Myatt also credits Dr. Soma Ganesan, Medical Director, Department of Psychiatry at Vancouver General Hospital and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Dr. Hiram Mok, Clinical Associate Professor, UBC Department of Psychiatry, for their vision and understanding that St. George’s University students can contribute to the healthcare system in Canada.  Both Dr. Ganesan and Dr. Mok will serve St. George’s University as VGH Director of Medical Education and VGH Clerkship Director respectively.

With the shortage of physicians in Canada on the rise, and approximately 15% of Canadians (4.1 million people) without a primary care physician, the need for qualified medical doctors is grave.  To combat the shortage, which is largely due to an increase in population and the rise of retiring Canadian physicians, the government of Canada has increased enrollment in its 16 medical schools, further limiting opportunities for foreign medical school graduates. With over 600 Canadian students in the medical program at St. George’s University, the University has taken a key step forward in providing them the opportunities they have both earned and deserve.