Medical Education Goes Local
With a rapidly growing population, BC had been falling behind in providing enough medical services, especially in more rural areas. UBC needed to commit to a leadership role in this issue because more doctors and support staff needed to be trained.
This urgent need gave UBC an opportunity to expand medical training beyond the Vancouver campus and into smaller communities. In 2004, UBC launched the Northern Medical Program based in Prince George, the Island Medical Program in Victoria, and in 2011, opened the Southern Medical Program in Kelowna.
“By creating more opportunities to study and train in the Interior, we are helping lay the groundwork for increasing the number of practicing physicians in communities across the region”, says Allan Jones, Regional Associate Dean, Interior, UBC Faculty of Medicine. “At the same time, we are creating additional centres of excellence for medical education in B.C.” This large initiative has started to make a big difference in health care in the province, but many smaller solutions are pulling their weight as well.
Under the leadership of Allison Greig, Associate Head of the Master’s of Physical Therapy Program, UBC has found a smart way to help immigrant physiotherapists meet BC’s difficult examination requirements. “This program was really developed to assist physiotherapists who have the academic qualifications and adequate preparation, but who may be challenged by the type of exam process Canada has in place,” Dr. Greig says.
Fraser Health joined UBC to create a psychiatry residency program to train more desperately needed psychiatrists and to woo new doctors. In the last 2 years they have hired 45 new doctors. “They wouldn’t have come here if they didn’t have a sense that we were building an academic program,” says Therry Isomura, a Clinical Associate Professor and Fraser Health’s Mental Health-Substance Use Program Medical Director.
Through a more connected effort to increase medical services in BC we are improving the health of our province in a very positive way.