Windsor Campus celebrates 15 years of impact in region

Dr. Trish Valcke, MD’13: The city became her home (Mychailo Photography) 

By Cam Buchan

It promised to attract and retain doctors, create health-care sector jobs, and boost the economy in Windsor and surrounding area.

In the 15 years since the first students walked through the doors of Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Windsor Campus, that promise is being fulfilled.

“There’s no question: Through our Windsor Campus, we’re preparing doctors who understand the distinct health care needs of people in the region – and who are staying in the community to meet those needs,” said Dean John Yoo. “They’re setting up homes and practices in Windsor, they’re helping to power the clinics and hospitals, and they’re significantly contributing to the local economy.”

Since 2008 when the campus opened, there has been a 35-per-cent increase in family physicians in Windsor, and 31-per-cent increase in specialists.

That’s a far cry from the late ‘90s and early 2000s, when the Windsor-Essex region was second only to Northern Ontario in terms of provincial regions with the lowest access to physicians.

windsor-by-the-numbers.jpgClick photo to enlarge infographic.

“Many of our students are from Windsor, complete their medical school and residency here, and then set up practice here,” said Dr. Larry Jacobs, associate dean of the Windsor Campus. “We’re building something that’s sustainable, and it is changing the face of what we do in health care here.”

In addition to the MD program, Windsor also offers residencies in Family Medicine and Psychiatry, and grads overwhelmingly choose to remain in the area to care for local patients after their training, said Jacobs. For example:

  • More than 80 per cent of graduates from the family medicine residency program have chosen to stay in Windsor-Essex; and,
  • The new psychiatry residency program has produced four graduates to this point – three of whom have stayed in Windsor.

In real numbers, the program has added almost 100 physicians to the region, said Yoo.

While the need for more doctors persists in Windsor-Essex – like many Ontario regions – the distributed education and training that Schulich Medicine is delivering through the Windsor Campus is a promising model in the face of the ongoing strain on the health care system, Yoo said.

“There are important lessons here for how medical schools and communities can work together to train and build capacity in areas where doctors are in short supply,” he said.

Photo 1: Dr. Carol Herbert; Photo 2: Dwight Duncan; Photo 3: breaking ground for new campus; Photo 4: Med student tour new building progress. Click buttons in photo to advance images.

Serving local communities

The idea for a medical school in Windsor was born in 2001 by Dwight Duncan, who was Windsor-St. Clair MPP at the time. It was an ideal fit with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s commitment to serving local communities and the region of southwestern Ontario.

The case for Windsor-Essex was compelling: The growing region had access-to-doctor rates as limited as remote areas of Canada.

“In concert with Schulich Medicine’s commitment to social responsibility, there was no question about the validity of responding to this need,” recalled Dr. Carol Herbert, the School’s dean at the time.

A formal announcement came in February 2006 by then Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman, to a standing ovation by guests, politicians, and dignitaries at the University of Windsor.

Schulich Medicine was coming to town.

“We’re getting our medical school,” Duncan was quoted as saying.

Western University already had an informal relationship with the Windsor-Essex region through the Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network (SWOMEN) under the leadership of its assistant dean, Dr. Raphael Cheung. There were also clinical placements and residents going to Windsor from London. But it took many years and hundreds of hours of passionate and tireless work to finally open the doors to Windsor’s own facility in 2008.

“We do a lot of things, but the fundamental product of a medical school is doctors. We make doctors,” said Herbert. “And if at the end of the day we have doctors who serve the community, wow. That's success.”

Growing roots in Windsor

Dr. Trish Valcke, MD’13, is among the many grads who chose to build a life in Windsor after completing the MD program there.

Now, she is a palliative care specialist at the Hospice of Windsor and Essex County. She sees patients at the Erie Shores campus hospice residence in Leamington, and throughout Windsor and Essex County in their homes.

Valcke grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, completed her undergrad at Western and joined Windsor’s medical program in its second year. The city quickly became her home, “and one of the best things that ever happened to me.”

“The medical school was a very small community, and it was so tight-knit, and I lucked-out with incredible classmates, many who have become lifelong friends,” said Valcke, who completed her residency at McMaster University, and returned to Windsor, after marrying a Windsorite from the MD Class of 2015. “I didn’t realize at the time that it would be a such an important part of my experience. That’s really what stood out in Windsor.”

Valcke’s experience has now come full circle.  She facilitates a number of courses for the MD program and is a program director for the Family Medicine postgraduate year 3 enhanced skills program in palliative care at the Windsor Campus, bringing a real-world, patient-centric experience into the classroom.

“I certainly appreciated the mentorship from the medical community here and a big part of coming back was to work with them,” said Valcke. “But my patients have always been very welcoming, and grateful for the care they received and for the opportunity to be part of the education of a student. I felt good about coming back and seeing the same patients and giving back to the community.”

Photo 1: Dr. Dema Kadri, MD’17 (right); Photos 2 and 3: Dr. Trish Valcke, MD’13; Photo 4: Dr. Dema Kadri; Photo 5: Dr. Trish Valcke. Click buttons in photo to advance images. (Mychailo Photography).

Coming full circle

As she sets up her family medicine practice in Windsor, Dr. Dema Kadri, MD’17, looks back on her experience at the Windsor Campus and isn’t surprised why physicians stay to practise in the community.

“There’s a charm to the city,” said the Windsor native, who completed her residency in family medicine after graduating. “When you’re born here, we always say you’ll find your way back to Windsor, no matter where you go. I’ve always wanted to study medicine, and luckily there was a campus in my hometown where I could train.”

Being taught by those who would become her colleagues, and learning from those who would eventually be her patients, has benefited Kadri during her time as a student and trainee.

“Windsor is a tight-knit community. Those patients were my ‘teachers’ when I was a medical student and they allowed me to learn and develop my skills. Now I get to use those skills they helped me develop to treat them.”

Kadri continues to benefit from the many relationships she fostered at the Windsor Campus as she builds a practice in the city. Former teachers are now current colleagues and have supported her with advice and counsel. “These people were really invested in helping us get our feet off the ground. There are even a group of physicians who work across the hall, and some down the hall, that were my senior residents, and residency preceptors and they’re always happy to help out.”

Like Valcke, her experience also comes full circle. Kadri has returned to the School to teach in small group sessions and occasionally hosts a student in her office.

“I always try to give back anytime I can.”

A concierge experience with impact

Now 15 years in, Jacobs connects the program’s ongoing success to how much students value their unique education and training opportunities in Windsor.

john-and-larry_250x300.jpgDr. Larry Jacobs (left) Associate Dean Windsor Campus and Dr. John Yoo (right) Dean Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

“Training amidst a socio-economically diverse patient population, Essex provides an exceptional clinical learning opportunity for students,” said Jacobs. It’s also a reason many graduates stay.

So too, is being able to get one-on-one attention and build strong relationships with peers, faculty, and staff.

“Our students get what I call a concierge experience, with a lot of one-on-one attention both in the hospital wards and in the classroom,” said Jacobs. “It’s a really tight family-like atmosphere coming from the staff on campus, and the faculty. With 38 students per year, it’s easy for us to get to know them as people, not just as students.”

Outside its walls, the campus continues to grow its reputation for preparing skilled doctors who understand – and are interested in serving – the unique health care needs of the region’s people, said Jacobs.

The campus will continue to focus on strengthening its symbiotic relationships with local health care partners, to further ease pressure on the strained health care system.

“We’ve really cemented ourselves as a strong pillar in this community. This is a great time to be involved in health education.”

Windsor Campus by the Numbers*


  • 2008 – opening of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry – Windsor Campus
  • 24 – students in 2008 charter class (Class of 2012)
  • 30 – students in 2009 class (Class of 2013)
  • 38 – students in each year thereafter
  • 152 – students across four years of the undergraduate medical education


Family Medicine:

  • 24 – residents in Family Medicine
  • 2 – length of Family Medicine training program in years
  • 3rd – year enhanced skills training in Palliative Care, Hospitalist or Emergency Medicine
  • 80 – percent of Family Medicine residents to set up practice in Windsor/Essex (2023)
  • 382 – students graduated since 2012 (2023)



  • 5 – total years of Psychiatry training program
  • 11 – full-time trainees in Psychiatry residency; 3 per year starting in 2023, moving to 15 full-time trainees by 2027
  • 1st – specialty residency training program Schulich has launched in a distributed campus
  • 2021 – first graduating class of the Psychiatry program
  • 3 – psychiatrists who graduated between 2021-& 2022 and set up practice in the region (2023)



  • 300 – Approximate number of visiting residents a year from London, Canada, and internationally (2023)


*As of 2021-2022, (latest data available in parentheses)