McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Niagara welcomes Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

Published: July 18, 2008
Dr. Karl Stobbe

The new Niagara campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine is being launched with an enthusiastic welcome from the Niagara region health community.

Dr. Karl Stobbe, family doctor and regional assistant dean for the medical school’s new Niagara campus, said he has had tremendous response in his search for area physicians to teach part-time at the school, which launches with 15 first-year students in September.

"It’s incredible. We determined we would need about 50 physicians to make our program robust and comprehensive for medical students, and we’ve had 200 Niagara physicians step forward to offer their expertise.

"There are very generous physicians in this community."

John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster, concurred, saying the reception from the Niagara region, and in particular from the healthcare community, has been warm.

"I’m sure the positive welcome for the medical school’s arrival in Niagara will impact the students’ enthusiasm for training and practicing in the region.  Over time, the benefits for the medical school and the community will be like a waterfall."

Niagara Health System CEO Debbie Sevenpifer said: "Opening a medical school is a significant step toward dealing with the physician shortages here in Niagara and we are so delighted to be on the threshold of actually having students here.

"Between our inpatient and outpatient services, we have almost 500,000 patient visits to our seven sites annually, and having full-time medical students here will be a tremendous enhancement to the provision of health care." 

Dr. Stobbe has been setting up a unique campus, housed in the Niagara Health System hospitals, with offices and classrooms at St. Catharines General.  The first-year students will spend their first few months at the Hamilton campus, coming to the St. Catharines General campus before Christmas. The rest of their three years of training will be spent in Niagara region hospitals and care centres.

Before taking on the assistant dean role, Dr. Stobbe was family physician in Beamsville and ran the University’s McMaster Community and Rural Education program known as Mac-CARE, which placed medical students at community hospitals and clinical locations throughout the Golden Horseshoe.

He said that next year about 100 local physicians will be called upon to take the medical students on rounds, act as student advisers or teach in general and specialty areas. As the program will grow to about 90 medical students and medical residents by 2015, all of the volunteers will be involved. Every NHS site and medical or surgical specialty is represented.

Not all teachers will be physicians, Dr. Stobbe said. "We have a registered nurse and a psychologist on board to teach core professional competencies such as medical ethics.

"I really see all of the hospital staff as being hugely valuable to molding our students into tomorrow’s doctors. Students nowadays need and want to learn to practice in a collaborative way and, as providers, physicians don’t need to be locked into old patterns of behaviour.

"Often RNs have more clinical knowledge than medical students, and I’m encouraging all our healthcare professionals to contribute to the education of our students, whether they are respiratory technologists, RNs or dietitians. I believe all staff have a role in creating good doctors."

He said the teaching environment in the hospitals, will benefit not only the medical students, but also the patients, hospital staff, medical colleagues, and the community: "By introducing a full medical school into our hospital environment, we’re raising the bar.".

The process of education for doctors is lengthy. Applicants with a three or four year undergraduate degree may apply to medical school. Most medical schools have a four year program, but McMaster’s is three years as the students are at school during the summers.  

"By the end of three years, these students are adept at taking medical histories, carrying out head-to-toe assessments, suturing, and can take a pretty educated guess at diagnosis and treatment," Dr. Stobbe said.

After the medical licence examinations there’s years of residency training, after which students have more examinations in their specialty. The residency period varies from two years for family medicine and up to six for a sub-specialty such as vascular surgery.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0