McMaster University is taking in midwifery students impacted by the recent termination of their program at Laurentian University.

Fifty-four students are transferring to McMaster’s midwifery program, including 39 students in mid-program and another 15 entering their first year in September. With the new arrivals, McMaster’s midwifery program will grow by roughly 50 per cent.

Roughly the same number of Laurentian students are transferring to Ryerson University’s midwifery program. The three universities have been part of the Ontario Midwifery Education consortium since 1993.

The Sudbury university closed the midwifery and 68 other programs in April because of financial issues.

“All of us in the midwifery community across the province were greatly saddened to hear about the closure of the program at Laurentian, and by the impact it has had on faculty, staff and students,” said Liz Darling, McMaster’s assistant dean of midwifery.

“The latest news is that all of the students coming to McMaster are now fully enrolled, and some of them are in clinical placements over the summer.”

Students will study remotely and complete their clinical placements in those regions of northern Ontario previously served by Laurentian.

Their orientation sessions will be conducted online and only occasional travel to McMaster will be required.

Some faculty and sessional instructors from Laurentian will be hired to teach in McMaster’s midwifery program. This will include francophone sessional instructors to teach French-speaking students from Laurentian’s Sage-Femmes program.

“We’re trying to make things as smooth as possible, so they don’t notice a big change. We want them to feel warmly welcomed and taken care of,” said Darling.

“The students will be studying and working in the same place, doing what they would normally be doing, but just with the support of a different university.”

This is not the first time McMaster has helped stranded students. Midwifery students from the University of Manitoba were transferred to McMaster after their program closed down in 2016.

However, no decision has yet been made by the province regarding the long-term future of Laurentian’s midwifery program, or where prospective students will go in future.

Darling said there is a commitment to making sure there is a new site to meet the needs of northern, francophone and Indigenous students wishing to study midwifery.

“Ontario needs more midwives. Helping to support these students to graduate and enter the workforce is about helping the public and allowing people wanting midwifery care to access it,” said Darling.

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