This summer, it’s all about new beginnings for Drs. Paul Dickinson and Harpreet Ghuman.
As recent graduates of UBC’s Northern Medical Program, Dickinson and Ghuman are now embarking on the next stage of their medical careers, both moving to B.C.’s Interior to join four other residents in becoming the first cohort of UBC’s newly launched family medicine residency training site in Kamloops.
“I am really excited to be part of this new site,” says Dickinson, who is busy settling into the community of Kamloops with his wife and nine-and-a-half month old son.
“As a new father, you’re pretty much on call every night,” he jokes.
But long hours have never been a deterrent for Dickinson, who first became attracted to a career in medicine while working as a summer reporter for a local newspaper — an experience that left him moved by the people he met and the stories they told, but somewhat unsettled by his inability to help community members in need.
“The thing that really attracted me to medicine is that you not only get to hear these stories about people, but you actually get to help them,” reflects Dickinson on his decision to pursue medical school.
As a native of Lillooet, B.C., and with an interest in rural medicine, Dickinson is particularly excited about the smaller learning environment and family residency training opportunities that a city, like Kamloops, affords.
“Smaller-town doctors are often asked to have a broader scope of practice, and that’s a challenge that I find very exciting and that I’d like to take on,” says Dickinson.
UBC family practice resident, Dr. Harpreet Ghuman measures the blood pressure of a patient in Kamloops.
Fellow resident, Ghuman, who grew up in Surrey, is also keen to train in a smaller community, where, she says, she’ll have an opportunity to learn from physicians who are still heavily involved in full-service family medicine.
Over the course of the two-year residency program, Dickinson and Ghuman, together with the other family practice residents — Drs. Quinn Hamilton, Robert McKeough, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Brittany Weaver — will take on a range of traditional rotations, such as psychiatry, surgery and pediatrics, in addition to a number of unique family practice rotations in residential, palliative and hospital care.
“We’ve really engaged our whole community,” says Dr. Selena Lawrie, the site director responsible for overseeing the education experience of the new family residents in Kamloops. With nineteen family practice preceptors and multiple specialist preceptors, there’s no doubt these new residents will be exposed to diverse clinical settings and unique patient experiences.
Residency program expansion
The new family medicine residency site in Kamloops is not the only community-based site to open its doors this summer. In July, a new five-year emergency medicine residency site in Kelowna accepted its first two residents.
Meanwhile, on the North Shore, a new family medicine residency site accepted eight more residents, all of who will be embarking on clinical placements in communities stretching from Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton through to the Sunshine Coast and Powell River as part of their two-year training.
The expansion and distribution of postgraduate training sites, such as these, is aligned with the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s overall vision to help transform the landscape of medical education in B.C. by not only increasing the number of doctors in training, but placing them in communities where they are needed most.
2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the UBC MD distributed program. Expansion of UBC’s medical school to the B.C. Interior has helped increase the annual enrolment of new medical undergraduates provincially to 288 — more than double from 10 years ago. In conjunction, UBC’s postgraduate training programs have steadily grown, with over 1,400 medical residents presently engaged in 67 different postgraduate programs offered at more than 100 clinical training sites in every area of the province. This year, nearly half the residencies — a record number — are designated for family medicine, where the need is greatest.
Meeting healthcare needs in the Interior
Dr. Roger Wong, associate dean of postgraduate medical education, sees the launch of these new residency sites in the Interior as a step in the right direction.
“We know that community needs in these areas are yet to be met,” says Wong, “We are here to step up to the plate to meet their needs.”
Kelowna emergency medicine residents, Drs. Jared Baylis and Daniel Ting will embark on a range of rotations in emergency medicine during their five-year residency.
But it’s not just the administration stepping up to the plate, site directors, preceptors and residents, including Kelowna’s emergency medicine resident, Dr. Daniel Ting, are too.
“I have very high expectations for my residency here in Kelowna,” says Calgary-born and raised emergency medicine resident Dr. Daniel Ting. “I think it’s really exciting to be a pioneer in a program and I think that affords the opportunity to mold the program over the next few years.”
“Kelowna has the opportunity to become one of the premier emergency medicine training sites in the country — all the ground work is there: we have amazing facilities, great teachers, who are really excited about the program, and, being a part of the UBC umbrella, we have access to cutting-edge research,” he adds.
As the site director for the new emergency medicine residency program in Kelowna, Dr. Kevin Clark has witnessed, first-hand, the need for new emergency physicians in the Interior. It’s his hope that these local residency opportunities will encourage more physicians to stay and practice in the Okanagan in the years to come – a sentiment strongly echoed by Lawrie, the Kamloops’ family residency program site director.
“It’s important to be training doctors throughout the province of B.C.,” says Lawrie, pointing to fact that such programs not only help meet the needs of under-resourced communities, but provide an ideal training ground for young doctors.
For Ghuman, the prospect of completing her family medicine residency in Kamloops holds very real benefits.
“In smaller communities there’s such a good relationship between specialists and family physicians. Everyone plays to their strengths to provide better patient care and that’s why I went into medicine in the first place,” she says.
Having purchased a duplex in Kamloops with her partner only weeks before her residency training began, it is clear Ghuman sees the city as an attractive option for laying down roots.
“I just jumped in,” she says. “I really love the feel of Kamloops and I can definitely see myself being here long-term.”
And, though it may only be the beginning for Ghuman and Dickinson, as well as the other residents starting training this summer, there’s no doubt that the launch of these new sites will be felt by physician and patient communities of Kamloops and Kelowna.