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NOSM hosting joint international conference

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) will host 850 delegates attending a major joint world conference Oct. 9-14.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) will host 850 delegates attending a major joint world conference Oct. 9-14.

Rendez-Vous 2012 brings together the Wonca World Rural Health Conference, The Network: Towards Unity for Health annual conference, NOSM/Flinders Conference on Community Engaged Medical Education, the Consortium for Longitudinal Curricula and the Training for Health Equity Network.

In addition, NOSM will also be hosting its own Francophone Symposium Oct. 10. This one-day symposium convenes stakeholders and conference registrants with an interest in 

Francophone health, and is open to Rendez-Vous 2012 delegates.

Hosting the joint conference is a big deal, given that it would have been a “huge honour” for NOSM to host just one international conference, let alone five, said NOSM dean Dr. Roger Strasser.

“This is the first of its kind, where these organizations that normally have their own conference actually come together for a combined conference.”

Rendez-Vous 2012 is something of a coming of age for NOSM, which only started training medical students seven years ago, he said. 

“I think that's true in terms of recognition as a real force on the world stage,” Strasser said.

The conference's theme is community participation in education, research and service.

“What that means is that we're going to have sessions that are about community engagement,” Strasser said. 

“So how communities work with health professional education institutions to improve the quality of the learning for the medical and the students and the other health professional students, and how the school works with the community.”

Reflecting the conference's theme, delegates will get the chance to visit a number of Northern communities.

The conference begins in Thunder Bay Oct. 9. But on Oct. 11, two groups will leave Thunder Bay and make their way to Sudbury for a “conference on the move,” Strasser said.

“One group will take the south route and visit places like Wawa and Manitoulin Island, and get to Sudbury on Friday evening,” he said.

“The other group will take the north route, and will visit Hearst and Cochrane, and some other places on their way to Sudbury, again arriving Friday evening.”

On Oct. 13, delegates will spend a full day in Sudbury, visiting places such as Dynamic Earth, Maison Vale Hospice, the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre and NOSM's Sudbury campus.

Some delegates will also stay in Thunder Bay, and will visit health organizations in that region.

“The closing of the conference will be a two-site video conference, connecting Sudbury to Thunder Bay,” Strasser said.

As for what will be presented at Rendez-Vous 2012, he said the conference's organization committee received more than 400 abstracts from medical professionals around the world. There will be a variety of presentations, workshops and speakers.

Many NOSM professors, students, residents and graduates will be among the presenters, Strasser said. 

For example, Dr. Doris Mitchell, one of NOSM's first graduates, who is now a practising family physician in her hometown of Chapleau, will be one of the Oct. 11 plenary speakers.

“She's going to speak about her journey as an Aboriginal person through medical school, and the Aboriginal perspective,” Strasser said.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Timothy Evans, the dean of the James P. Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University in Bangladesh and the former assistant director general of the 

World Health Organization. He'll be giving his presentation Oct. 9.

For those who are interested, the keynote speech and all the plenary sessions will be available via live web stream at


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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