New medical school on schedule to open in 2025, says UPEI

A render of what the medical school is expected to look like when complete. (UPEI - image credit)
A render of what the medical school is expected to look like when complete. (UPEI - image credit)

The foundation is in, walls are going up, and construction is now officially underway for UPEI's medical school.

The new faculty of medicine is on schedule to open in the summer of 2025, the university's interim president Greg Keefe said.

Twenty Island students will be accepted that first year and every year after that, Keefe said.

Given the timeline, that means it will be close to a decade before students become qualified family physicians. But Keefe said the hope is the school will actually attract new doctors to the province.

Travis Kingdon/CBC
Travis Kingdon/CBC

"We think this is actually an excellent opportunity for recruitment to fill positions that the province currently has difficulty filling," he said.

"We know there are a number of physicians out there who have identified they'd love to come to P.E.I. to work if there is a medical program they can work within."

$91M in expected costs

The recently tabled provincial budget included $22 million for the medical school.

The expected cost for infrastructure and equipment is $91 million, with the province investing about $62 million, Keefe said.

"Physicians like variety in their work. So if they're spending, let's say, 10 per cent of their time training students, then that gives them a bit more quality of life for their careers," Keefe said, adding they've already begun interviews to select dean for the medical school.

Both Health P.E.I. and the Medical Society of P.E.I. have expressed concerns if medical professionals have to do their jobs and work with students.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Investments into projects are important, Dr. Krista Cassell, the society's president, said in an emailed statement. But she added she would also like to see working conditions improve for existing health care professionals.

"We recognize that it is crucial to strike a balance between supporting future projects and addressing the immediate needs of our healthcare system," she said.

"We are particularly interested during this time of upheaval in healthcare in investments that support our current system, our physicians, and other front-line healthcare workers today."

Meanwhile, some UPEI students said they're excited for the new medical school.

"We think it is a good idea," Noah Mannholland, with the UPEI Student Union. "We are excited that students will have the chance to pursue studies to become doctors in house without the need to go away.

"We're hoping that it manages to put a little more emphasis on UPEI for the province to maybe look at us and see how we can be improved further."