Southern Medical Program: What’s new for 2013-2014

August 23, 2013

Premier Christy Clark meets students (L-R) Robyn Buna, Sandy Wright, Jordan Nostedt, and Christabelle Bitgood from UBC’s Southern Medical Program at last fall’s official opening of the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

Premier Christy Clark meets students (L-R) Robyn Buna, Sandy Wright, Jordan Nostedt, and Christabelle Bitgood from UBC’s Southern Medical Program at last fall’s official opening of the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

First class of student physicians begin clinical phase of education

SMP’s inaugural class enter their clinical years

Students from the Southern Medical Program’s (SMP) inaugural class begin the clinical phase of their medical education this September. The first 32 medical undergraduates – who entered the program in September 2011 – will spend the next year learning alongside physicians and other health professionals in BC Interior hospitals.

The majority of SMP students will train at either Kelowna General Hospital or Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. Each student rotates through ten different specialities including medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, psychiatry, emergency medicine, orthopedics, anesthesiology, dermatology, and ophthalmology. A portion of SMP students will participate in UBC’s integrated community clerkship program spending the next year training in smaller, community-based programs in Vernon, Chilliwack, Terrace, and Fort St. John.

“It’s an exciting time for both our program and our students,” says Dr. Allan Jones, Regional Associate Dean, Interior. “The students are eager to gain hands-on clinical experience and start working more in-depth with patients. Our faculty and staff are enthusiastic to assist with their learning and help them discover their future career paths.”

With the recent addition of the SMP’s third cohort, 96 new medical undergraduates will complete the bulk of their medical education and clinical training in Interior BC communities. More than 700 physicians across the region are now involved in teaching with the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

Royal Inland Hospital rotation pilot a resounding success

Last fall, four UBC medical students began a full year of clinical training at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH) for their third year clerkship rotation. Now complete, the pilot has received excellent feedback from both students and physicians and accolades for the hard work invested by program staff and hospital administration.

As a small group of learners at RIH, the students gain remarkable exposure to clinical experiences and one-on-one teaching from their preceptors.  “As the only learner in your specialty at any given point, you don’t have to sit on the sideline and watch,” says Kristy Cho, third-year student. “You are given a lot of flexibility to pursue your own interests while getting a lot of hands-on experience.”

More than 100 physicians are actively involved with teaching in the program at RIH.  “We’ve had a great number of physicians step up to teach with the program and the feedback has been incredibly positive,” says Dr. Anise Barton, general surgeon and co-site education lead.

“Kamloops is a big enough centre to see lots of different pathologies, get exposed to lots of specialists, and serves a fairly broad population base,” says Kulveer Parhar, third-year student. “The smaller number of learners is a definite strength as the physicians know your name and are excited to shed their knowledge on you.”

A similar program rotation was completed at Kelowna General Hospital for 12 students over the 2012-2013 academic year.

Team of educators full passion for rural medicine

When plans were announced in 2011 to create an integrated community clerkship program (ICC) in Trail, the idea was embraced by both the medical community and the public. As with most rural BC communities, physician recruitment and retention remains an ongoing challenge, but one which the program was designed to help address.

The Trail ICC program admits two third-year students annually for a full year of in-depth clinical training.  Each student is matched with two primary family practice preceptors working collectively to care for patients in the clinics and in addition to training alongside specialists at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).

“The creation of this program is a remarkable acknowledgement that education can be delivered as well and as effectively in a small, rural community as in a larger urban centre.” says Dr. Cheryl Hume, family physician and ICC site director. “It validates the skill set of those working here, creates a greater culture of medical education, and ultimately improves quality of care for patients.” Dr. Hume also attributes the effective partnership with the Interior Health Authority for supporting the program’s success.

Third-year medical students Alexander Ednie and Katie Eddy, who entered medical school as a couple, have spent the past year as the only two learners in the community and the hospital. For Ednie and Eddy, their collective experience has been one they will never forget and has only fueled their passion to practice rural medicine in the future. “If we were to graduate from our program and an opportunity came up in Trail, we would come back in a heart beat,” adds Ednie.  “The staff, physicians, everybody – it’s such a cohesive environment.”

The Trail ICC program will welcome two new students this September. Based on the program’s success, potential expansion in the number of students is being reviewed for the following academic year. A similar ICC program is offered in Vernon for two students each year.

New faculty members

Dr. Katharine Smart – Preparation to Medical Practice & Year 4 Electives Course Leader

Dr. Katharine Smart is a pediatrician and clinical assistant professor with the UBC Faculty of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. Smart completed her medical degree at UBC followed by her pediatrics residency with the University of Calgary at Alberta Children’s Hospital. She completed fellowships in both Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Pediatric Trauma and also holds a Diploma of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. For the past five years, she served the University of Calgary as clinical assistant professor in pediatrics, training both medical undergraduates and residents. During her time with U of C, Smart developed and implemented a new longitudinal course for the undergraduate medical curriculum focused on global health and underserved populations.

Dr. Michael Purdon – Director of Faculty Development

Dr. Michael Purdon is a family physician and executive medical director, Community and Residential Care for the Interior Health Authority. Purdon completed his medical degree at McGill University followed by his family practice residency at Beverly Hospital and Tufts University Medical School in Boston, Mass. Purdon completed a fellowship in faculty development from the University of Washington. For the past 13 years, Purdon has served the University of Washington Faculty of Medicine as lecturer for the Faculty Development Fellowship, associate director for the Swedish Family Medicine Residency Program, and clinical assistant professor of Family Medicine.


Media Contact

Patty Wellborn
Media Relations Strategist
University Relations

UBC Okanagan
Tel: 250 317 0293

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