Today, the Faculty of Medicine celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Southern Medical Program (SMP) at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) campus in Kelowna.
Opened in 2011, the SMP has graduated more than 215 doctors, helping to improve health care for patients and families in B.C.
It’s also one of four sites within UBC’s broader distributed medical education program, which is training the next generation of medical students and resident doctors around the province including in Victoria, Prince George and Vancouver-Fraser.
Every year, the SMP welcomes 32 new medical students, of which up to 10 seats are designated for applicants with rural and remote backgrounds. At any given time, approximately 130 medical students and more than 90 resident doctors are training at hospitals, primary care and health care clinical settings across the Interior Health region.
“UBC’s Southern Medical Program in Kelowna is one of four places around the province where UBC is training our province’s future doctors,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Regional education opportunities are important because we know students are more likely to stay and practice in the communities they study in. This is a remarkable outcome.”
Since its inception in 2004, the province-wide distributed medical education program has remained a strategic partnership between UBC, the Government of BC, the health authorities, the local communities, the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Victoria. Since then, medical school enrolment in B.C. has more than doubled with a growing number of graduates choosing to stay on and practice in B.C. where their education and training took place.
Overall, more than 90 per cent of students who complete their undergraduate and postgraduate medical education training at UBC stay in B.C. to practice.
“Eighteen years ago, UBC embarked on an ambitious plan to remap medical education to better serve the province,” said Dermot Kelleher, dean, faculty of medicine and vice-president of health, UBC. “Today, the university is a global leader in distributed medical education and together with our partners in the SMP, we’re training world-class doctors that are passionate about building a health-care system that is more equitable, diverse and inclusive for patients and communities.”
In collaboration with Interior Health, close to 2,000 medical student and resident doctor rotations take place every year in hospitals, primary care settings and clinics helping to extend the delivery of health care.
“Interior Health is proud to celebrate ten years of partnership and collaboration with UBC’s Southern Medical Program,” said Susan Brown, president and CEO, Interior Health. “It’s been a privilege to support medical students embarking on their health care careers, and we look forward to continuing to strengthen the medical community throughout the Interior, together.”
The program also provides students from all four sites with community-based learning opportunities that prepares future health care professionals to provide high-quality, culturally-safe care, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes for the patients and communities they will serve.
In addition to training future doctors, the SMP is a hub for world-leading medical research with a particular focus on the health needs of people living in the Interior. The program is home to the new Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, which is accelerating new treatments and preventions for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurologic conditions.
“UBC Okanagan has firmly established itself as a leading medical education and research-focused university serving the needs of the Interior,” said Dr. Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal, UBC Okanagan. “We’re proud to be home to the SMP and delivering world-class medical education and research that is improving the lives of British Columbians.”
UBC’s distributed medical program was one of the first of its kind in the world and is now one of the largest medical programs in North America. Each year, UBC accepts 288 first-year medical students and 362 first-year resident doctors, helping to grow B.C.’s health workforce and enhance quality of care for British Columbians.
Learn more about how SMP students and alumni are weaving healthcare into the fabric of B.C. communities here.