Medical program benefits local hospitals

Vernon’s healthcare system is benefitting from the ability for student doctors to train locally in the Okanagan

  • Sep. 23, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Vernon’s healthcare system is benefitting from the ability for student doctors to train locally in the Okanagan.

Premier Christy Clark officially opened the new home of the Southern Medical Program that will see doctors completing their medical training for the first time in the Okanagan – benefiting B.C. students and families.

“Our government is focused on investing and expanding post-secondary programs to educate health-care professionals so that all families all across B.C. have access to quality health care,” said Clark. “Students tend to practice where they’re trained, and now student doctors can complete their entire medical undergraduate program right here in the Okanagan.”

The Reichwald Health Sciences Centre at UBC’s Okanagan campus was constructed with a $32.7-million investment by the B.C. government.

It accommodates 32 first-year medical students, bringing the number of first-year medical students in the province to 288, more than doubling the number of spaces since 2001.

The SMP clinical training is delivered at Kelowna General Hospital, Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, and other hospitals and health centres in 22 Interior communities.

The 4,266-square-metre facility includes high-tech classrooms and lecture theatres networked with the other three medical program locations in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George. It also includes small-group teaching rooms, teaching and research labs, administration and faculty offices and a human kinetics lab, part of the school of health and exercise sciences.

“The journey to becoming a doctor is an incredible one and I wish students and facility members alike every success in what is bound to be an exciting future,” said Health Minister Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid.

“Increasing the number of B.C. educated doctors through the expansion and distribution of UBC’s medical school is one of the ways we are ensuring there are sufficient physicians across the province to provide quality patient care.”

Robyn Buna, a second-year student in the SMP, said: “I am grateful to have the opportunity to complete my medical education in the Interior. It’s exciting to be a part of a new program and to learn alongside a medical community that is truly enthusiastic about teaching students.”

As part of UBC faculty of medicine’s distributed medical doctor (MD) undergraduate program, SMP students will spend the balance of the four-year MD program studying and training in communities throughout the B.C. Interior, having spent their first term in classes in Vancouver.