Family physicians bring the classroom to the clinics

Medical student Alex Bond with her preceptor Dr. Joey Podavin

Students learn in doctor offices throughout Central and North Okanagan

Second year Southern Medical Program student Alex Bond arrives at the Lakeland Medical Clinic in Kelowna every Thursday just before 8:00 am. Her weekly training session with Dr. Joey Podavin, a local family physician is set to begin as part of the MD Undergraduate Program’s Family Practice Continuum Course.  Together they map out new learning objectives for the week, discuss any research projects assigned the week prior, and get ready for the day’s patients. At 8:30, the doors to the busy walk-in clinic open and a steady stream of patients flow through the office.

Medical student spends roughly one half-day per week during their first two years of the program learning in the community alongside family physicians. Students are matched on a one-on-one basis with a family physician as they focus on developing their clinical skills and applying some of the book knowledge from their lectures at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Patients attending these clinics play an invaluable role in the student’s education by allowing them into their medical lives to assist in their care.

“The course is refreshing as we are able to learn from actual family doctors in their clinics as they care for their patients,” says Bond. “It’s so valuable to be able to supplement everything you are learning in the classroom and reinforce both the physiology and clinical skills aspects of being a physician.”

More than 100 family physicians from West Kelowna, Kelowna, Winfield, and Vernon are involved with teaching Southern Medical Program students. While the office environment and patient base can differ from clinic to clinic, the focus remains on providing students with a foundation of knowledge that encompasses all types of medical specialties including family medicine.

For many physicians like Dr. Podavin, they find the experience rewarding and appreciate the opportunity to incorporate students into their practice. “The course asks the teacher to ensure they have a common approach to medical problems and able to verbalize their thinking process,” says Dr. Podavin. “It’s a good way to ensure you are on top of your skills as a physician.”

The experience for Bond was both rewarding and often inspirational, adding “he is really passionate about teaching and provided a systematic approach to my learning.” Uncertain about which residency program she would like to pursue upon graduation, the door to family medicine remains wide open based on her experiences thus far.