Alumni Spotlight, People
South Okanagan alumnus Dr. Travis Thompson has deep rural roots, and a deep desire to serve small communities
September 6, 2016
Family Practice Resident, South Okanagan
Alumni, Southern Medical Program
Postgraduate Education, Family Medicine
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
Doctor of Medicine (2016)
Bachelor of Science studies, UBC Okanagan
“I’m passionate about doing my part to help under-serviced communities.”
FROM A YOUNG AGE, Travis Thompson took an acute interest in medicine. But it wasn’t just an affinity for anatomy and physiology that drew him to the field—it was the prospect of helping others, particularly those living in rural areas of the province.
Why the Southern Medical Program?
“When you come from a small town, you have a unique understanding of the needs felt by a community,” says Dr. Thompson, who grew up in Oliver, near the south end of the Okanagan Valley.
“I remember when my grandmother was sick many years ago, the entire medical community rallied around her—it was in that moment I decided I wanted to be part of a tight-knit medical community and provide quality health care to others down the road.”
MED SCHOOL CLOSE TO HOME
This past spring, Thompson was one of 30 new doctors who graduated from the Southern Medical Program (SMP) based at UBC Okanagan, a campus he came to know well during his undergraduate studies in science.
Proximity to his hometown was a big factor in Thompson’s decision to pursue his medical studies in the region.
“I love the Okanagan, the weather’s great, the people are great, and it’s home for me,” he says.
Looking back on his time as a med student, Thompson says, “The learning experience was fantastic—all the faculty and clinical instructors were really keen to teach, and they were all really patient with all of us being new learners.
“The program staff do a fantastic job of organizing all of us and making sure that our experience is top notch.”
RURAL ROOTS FIRMLY PLANTED
In July 2016, Thompson entered the next phase of his medical training by joining three other residents as the first cohort at the South Okanagan family practice residency site, which will see up to eight residents in training by July 2018.
Thompson will work alongside local family physicians and other health-care practitioners. Over the next two years in Penticton and Summerland, he will gain exposure to family medicine, as well as a wide range of specialities, such as pediatrics, internal medicine, emergency medicine, surgery and psychiatry. The cohort will also train in local clinics and regional hospitals, including Penticton Regional Hospital and South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver.
“I really enjoy the broad spectrum of practice available to family physicians working in smaller communities,” he says, reflecting on his positive exposure to rural medicine while in med school, during which he travelled across BC—from Mackenzie and Williams Lake to Grand Forks—for his electives.
“I’m passionate about doing my part to help under-serviced communities, and I think being in a smaller centre—the training site in the South Okanagan—will help me to become a very competent rural doctor.”