For the first time in Saskatchewan history, medical residents interested in cancer care will have the opportunity to train at home. The USask College of Medicine is launching a new residency program in Medical Oncology, in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA), and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health. 

The two-year medical oncologist residency program will see its first resident in July 2023. 

Residents will work and train with medical oncologists, specialists, and other health care professionals in the cancer field. 

“Supporting this program is part of our priority to ensure Saskatchewan residents receive the highest quality care,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “This program means more of our undergraduate medical students can stay in Saskatchewan for post-graduate training, increasing the likelihood that they remain in Saskatchewan as licensed, practicing specialists. 

Medical oncologists are involved in the diagnosis, assessment, management, and survivorship care of cancer in all stages.

“Unlike surgical and radiation oncologists who perform surgery or use radiation to treat cancer, medical oncologists use systemic therapy or medication involving chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, hormone therapy, and other treatments,” explained the Sask. Cancer agency in a release. 

“Medical oncologists play an integral role in cancer care,” said Deb Bulych, Interim President and CEO of Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. “Extensive collaborative work has created this program in Saskatchewan. We are excited about the prospects and potential this program will offer qualified residents for the SCA and cancer patients across the province.”

Work continues to develop and meet the qualifications set out by the Royal College Physicians and Surgeons of Canada to launch the program, explained the agency. 

The program is intended for internal medicine residents who successfully have completed three years of residency and will be eligible and ready for the program training starting in July 2023.

“The recently approved oncology residency program is a much-needed and very welcome addition to the residency programs delivered by postgraduate medical education for the province of Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Anurag Saxena, associate dean of Postgraduate Medical Education at the USask College of Medicine. “We look forward to our continued collaboration with the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency as we begin to train oncology residents in our province for our province.”

The Government of Saskatchewan provided the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency with a budget of $219.8 million this year to improve treatments, services and resources for cancer patients, explained the agency. 

The funding includes a $389,000 increase for a medical oncologist to support the establishment of a new medical oncology residency program in partnership with the College of Medicine.

The program will be open to all qualified internal medicine residents across Canada.