uOttawa MD students collaborate in the creation of a student-run clinic now open at Bruyère
The Faculty of Medicine’s MD students – in partnership with uOttawa law students, Carleton University social work students and the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre – have launched a student-run interdisciplinary clinic in the Ottawa community. Unique by design, this clinic is not a medical clinic, as the patients referred are all seeking help regarding social needs.
Aimed to address social determinants of health, the clinic is called NORTH (Navigating Ottawa Resources to Improve Health) and is a key project within uOttawa’s Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) program addressing the importance of social accountability in medicine.
Specifically, medical schools have an important role to play in ensuring that the health care system continues to provide necessary access and quality to meet the needs of the population. Factors that shape health are not only limited to medical treatments or lifestyle choices, but also the living conditions people experience due to income, wealth, education and other social factors.
The NORTH Clinic is currently open for half a day per week at the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre located at 75 Bruyère Street, where the family medicine team is providing NORTH with office space, access to electronic medical records (EMR) and referrals of patients who have social needs.
“uOttawa’s MD and law students, along with Carleton’s social work students, will receive referrals at NORTH from the Bruyère family health team where patients who need help accessing the health care system are identified based on social determinants related to housing, poverty, food insecurity or mental health to name a few,” says Dr. Michael Hirsh, Director of Social Accountability for UGME. “Our students have had a full day of training that prepares them for the navigator roles they will assume, in particular how to access services in the community. ”
The NORTH clinic is the culmination of the social accountability mandate and the vision of Dr. Melissa Forgie, Vice-Dean, UGME who recognized a need in the community for social services that specifically focus on addressing access to health care for vulnerable populations.
“Many incredible interdisciplinary health care professionals and students have been involved in the launch of NORTH,” says Dr. Hirsh. “Notably, I have to thank Dr. Forgie, the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre including our Social Work lead Vela Tadic, and student leads on the project, Naomi Niznick, and Shelby Allison for their incredible dedication and hard work.”
NORTH clinic took nearly two years of development and opened its doors for the first time on January 16.