Office of the Registrar
Faculty of Medicine (2006/2007)
1 Background

The Faculty of Medicine of Memorial University of Newfoundland is the youngest of the 16 Canadian Medical Schools and was one of the four schools suggested by the Hall Royal Commission on Canadian Health Services in its 1964 report.

A series of meetings was begun in 1963 between representatives of Memorial University of Newfoundland, the Newfoundland Medical Association, and the Department of Health of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Following the Hall Commission's recommendation and on the basis of positive advice from Dr. J. Wendell MacLeod, Executive Secretary of the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges, and Dr. Chester B. Stewart, Dean of Medicine at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Memorial University of Newfoundland established a Commission in 1965 to undertake a feasibility study. The late Dr. J.A. MacFarlane, formerly Dean of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and a member of the Hall Royal Commission served as chairman. The MacFarlane Commission's recommendation that a Medical School be established at Memorial University of Newfoundland was confirmed independently by a Royal Commission on Health Services for Newfoundland and Labrador. The chairman of this latter Commission, Lord Brain, an eminent British medical educator, and his advisors, reported that the location of a Medical School in the province was a necessary step in the provision of adequate medical services for Newfoundland.

Dr. Ian Rusted, a local physician who had been involved in the early negotiations and had taken the initiative in introducing continuing medical education for doctors in the province, was appointed Dean of Medicine in 1967. Under his leadership, faculty members were recruited, the undergraduate program was initiated and the first medical students were admitted in 1969. The existing programs of postgraduate training and continuing medical education were strengthened and the spectrum of medical education was subsequently completed in 1971 with the initiation of a program of graduate studies leading to the degrees of M.Sc. and Ph.D.

The undergraduate curriculum was designed to foster integrated learning and to permit contact with patients early in the student's training. To facilitate this integrated approach the administration of the school was set up as a nondepartmental system based on three Divisions: Community Health, Basic Medical Sciences and Clinical Sciences.

Initially the Medical School was housed in temporary buildings. With joint funding by the Federal and Provincial Governments, a Health Sciences Centre was constructed on the North Campus of the University and was officially opened in 1978. This modern building, occupied by the Medical School and the General Hospital, contains a large Health Sciences Library, a Medical Audiovisual Centre, an Animal Care Unit, auditorium, lecture and seminar rooms. The multipurpose teaching laboratories can be readily adapted for different types of teaching and demonstration. The structure of the Health Sciences Centre facilitates integration between basic scientists, clinicians and allied health workers in the hospital, the University and the community. Clinical research facilities are located adjacent to basic research units and some research laboratories provide services in clinical investigation. Services such as cafeteria and stores are common to the Medical School and the Health Care Corporation of St. John's.

The General Hospital is part of a network of teaching hospitals in St. John's and throughout the province. The conventional use of major referral centres as teaching resources is complemented by the availability of Regional and Community Hospitals to provide valuable clinical experience for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

In contrast to many other schools, the class size at the University's Medical School is small. This permits ready contact between students and faculty, and has obvious advantages in clinical teaching. At present normally 60 students are admitted annually to the first year of the undergraduate medical program.