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'Good for the community': USask's College of Medicine in Regina now offering full undergraduate degrees


The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine has expanded its Regina-based undergraduate medical doctor program. First year students can now attend school in Regina - previously only years two to four of the program were offered in the Queen City.

All four years of the program can now run at the Regina General Hospital. A new classroom, study spaces and an anatomy lab have been added for students.

“What’s unique here in that this is the only [Canadian medical education campus] based entirely in a hospital,” Preston Smith, the dean of the College of Medicine, said.

“Medical students are first taught by patients. Medical students from day one of first year interact with patients on a daily basis in the cafeteria and on the wards.”

The first group of first years started in August 2022. Prior to that, students completed the first year of the program in Saskatoon, then 40 of the class of 100 students would relocate to Regina.

According to the university, the goal of the program expansion is to avoid disruption from moving between campuses. It also hopes this will attract more program applicants from southern Saskatchewan, and will retain more doctors in the region.

“It is a high quality medical education experience and it’s good for the community because [the students] are more likely to stay,” Smith said.


Saskatchewan does not offer all possible residency training programs, so some students have to go out of province for fields like urology or ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat).

Smith said approximately 70 per cent of students who complete their medical degree in the province end up staying here, adding the option to eventually teach offers a new layer for doctors.

“Physicians that teach report greater career satisfaction and are more likely to stay in their communities,” Smith said.

“Over the last decade or so, our graduates of every Canadian medical school report that 75 to 80 per cent of them want a role in teaching as part of their careers. So having a teaching program actually enhances retention directly.”

Both the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and the Ministry of Health are hopeful this expansion will attract more people to the undergraduate program and will keep more doctors in southern Saskatchewan.

“What we’re trying to do is connect the student to the hospital settings within Saskatchewan because it’s a better opportunity for them to be retained in this province if they’re working side by side with somebody, and there’s an opportunity for them,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said.

“If there is somebody from Weyburn, Estevan or Moose Jaw areas, they can choose Regina closer to home, which helps out their studies as well.”

On Tuesday, the NDP opposition voiced concern about the pressures on the healthcare sector in the province, specifically with retention in rural areas.

“The staffing crisis is creating burnout for folks who have put in time, in some cases decades, to serving this province,” NDP MLA Matt Love said in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

“They’re being forced to work overtime, they’re being denied time off and they’re burning out, leaving the profession and in many cases leaving this province.”

Andrew Will, the CEO of the SHA, said the past few years have been tough on healthcare workers.

“They’ve really gone above and beyond to care for our patients and we want to support them in every way that we possibly can,” Will said.

The expansion of the College of Medicine won’t see a direct impact to the healthcare system for a few years when students graduate, but Minister Merriman said the province does want to find more solutions for retaining staff in the near future.

“We want to look at building for short term and retaining the ones that are coming out of school, but also for the long haul that they have an opportunity to be here in five or six years from now,” Merriman said. Top Stories

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