Lori Flinders recently was appointed to the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) board of directors.
The director of Behavioural Health Services with Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services, Flinders is thrilled to sit on the board for the next two years.
“Fort Frances Tribal Area Health Services has been in partnership with NOSM for several years,” she noted, referring to how she got involved with it.
“We take first-year students and the past couple of years, here at Behavioural Health, we’ve been pretty heavily involved because they are really looking at going into the communities and learning about culture and tradition, and our unit really empowers those kinds of traditional healing.”
Flinders also had a friend apply to be a NOSM student several years ago and that piqued her interested.
“I just find it so fantastic that we have that available in our area,” she enthused about having a school of medicine relatively close to home.
NOSM is a joint initiative of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Laurentian University in Sudbury, first accepting students in September, 2005.
Flinders noted she had to apply for the position on the board.
“It was quite a process,” she remarked. “I had to go through an interview.”
Flinders was notified in the summer that she was among the nine new board members chosen from 32 applicants, and her first meeting was held in September in Thunder Bay.
According to a press release from NOSM, the appointment of the nine new directors concluded a three-year transition process that involved modifying the board’s size and composition.
Comprised of 19 directors, the new structure “gives priority to the recruitment of a variety of skills, expertise, and experience amongst board members while still reflecting the geographic and demographic diversity of Northern Ontario, including indigenous, Francophone, and rural/remote communities.”
Flinders participated in an orientation that included an overview of governance, technology, and communications at NOSM, as well as a tour of the medical school buildings at Lakehead University.
“They have such a wonderful process for orientation,” she said. “They connect you with a mentor who’s been on the board to understand because it is such a unique infrastructure with the two universities.”
Flinders added she felt very welcomed.
“It’s actually very amazing what they are doing in Thunder Bay,” she enthused. “I was quite in impressed.
“They are right on track with the technology that’s being utilized in the labs and for training.
“They really are at the forefront of contemporary training practices,” she said.
Flinders, meanwhile, brings plenty of experience to the board’s table.
“I’m a social worker, not a medical practitioner, but we are a holistic health and wellness provider at Tribal Health,” she explained, noting she also was born and raised in Fort Frances and understands the issues facing rural communities.
She also believes she brings diversity, being a First Nations’ person as well as a woman.
“I think I have my fingers on the pulse of the needs in and around what we would expect to see from the new doctors coming to our community,” she reasoned.
Flinders has been a senior manager for about eight years, and is familiar with budgets and working with boards.
She also is a certified First Nations’ health manager with the First Nations Health Managers Association.
“So I’m involved in health and wellness all around,” she remarked. “And it’s important to keep those connections with academia in and around research and best practice.
“I want to ensure the sustainability and the longevity of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine,” Flinders stressed.
“I want to make sure that I’m bringing that diverse lens to the table, as well, and to help in any way in and around culturally-safe practice.”
Flinders is headed to her second meeting of the board, which will be held in Sudbury tomorrow and Friday.
“I’m very excited to see the Sudbury campus and connect with all of the board members face-to-face,” she said.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”