Erin Charman (left) and Julia Hassler

Erin Charman (left) and Julia Hassler

VJH opens doors for medical students

New facilities at Vernon Jubilee Hospital could alleviate the North Okanagan’s doctor shortage

New facilities at Vernon Jubilee Hospital could alleviate the North Okanagan’s doctor shortage.

Renovated medical school space was unveiled on the fifth floor of the Polson Tower Friday.

“We hope they will stay and practise and call this region home,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, of the students in the University of B.C.’s southern medical program.

And that is certainly something Julia Hassler is considering.

“I love Vernon, I’m sold,” said the third-year medical student who is from Saskatchewan.

Staying here could become more likely if Hassler ultimately becomes a family doctor, but she may have to move elsewhere if she specializes in obstetrics.

The new academic space features centralized education areas, a clinical skills room and two video conferencing rooms.

“It’s nice to have a place to study,” said Erin Charman, a third-year medical student from Castlegar.

“It’s easier to be here when things come up.”

And while they are students, Hassler and Charman both put in a lot of hours at VJH and also find themselves on-call.

“The doctors here are really great and get us involved (in cases),” said Charman.

More than 40 students a year will go through the medical school at VJH.

“The students bring their enthusiasm,” said Dr. George Borchert, a local physician.

“It’s good for morale and it reminds people (health care professionals) to be compassionate with patients.”

The space also has an on-call sleep area and lockers for students completing their clinical training, and the lounge has proven popular.

“We can look up patient charts or do dictation,” said Hassler of the computers in the lounge.

Construction and equipment for the medical school space cost $983,000 and was funded by the Ministry of Health.