Warren Brock

Communications Manager

Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, Southern Medical Program
Office: Reichwald Health Sciences Centre
Phone: 250.807.8601
Email: warren.brock@ubc.ca


Dr. Femke Hoekstra has been appointed Assistant Professor (tenure-track) with the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, Division of Social Medicine and an Investigator with the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management (CCDPM) in the area of Implementation Science.

Dr. Hoekstra holds a Doctor of Philosophy, PhD from the University of Groningen in the areas of implementation science, rehabilitation, and physical activity promotion. In addition, she completed an MSc in Fundamental and Clinical Human Movement Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

For the past six years, she has served as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the UBC Okanagan Faculty of Health and Social Development’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences and is the 2023 Postdoctoral Fellow Research of the Year. Dr. Hoekstra’s research focuses on improving health services and care for equity-deserving groups in rural, remote and other isolated communities by studying implementation processes of health innovations in real-world settings.

Time to check in with some of our SMP alumni. Hear from some of our past graduates on where they’re currently training or practicing.

Name: Taran Main
Graduation Year: 2019
Current city: Kelowna

Describe your current practice (or training environment):
I have been practicing in the city of Kelowna as an Addiction Medicine Specialist and Family Physician for the past 2 years since graduating. I have reconnected with UBC Med as a preceptor and faculty member.

Best piece of advice you ever received:
As a physician it is easy to over-commit yourself with such a high demand for family doctors but I am reminded to find balance and sustainability in this profession: “When you say yes to work, you are saying no to home (and yourself).”


Name: Dianne Valenzuela
Graduation Year: 2015
Current city: Vancouver

Describe your current practice (or training environment) in 1 or 2 sentences:
I am a staff Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgeon at Mount St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. I also have a Facial Plastic Surgery practice in the same city.

Best piece of advice you ever received:
It’s just a phase! (applies to both medical training and kids).


Name: Jordan Nostedt
Graduation Year: 2015
Current city: Edmonton

Describe your current practice (or training environment):
I am a general surgeon at the Grey Nuns Hospital.

Best piece of advice you ever received:
“You can always be better.”



Name: Brendan Lim
Graduation year: SMP 2022
Current city: Saskatoon, SK

Describe your current practice (or training environment):
PGY-2 Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Saskatchewan.

Best piece of advice you ever received:
You never know when you might learn something that will be useful one day.

Name: Leah Trippell
Graduation year: 2020
Current city: Campbell River

Describe your current practice (or training environment):
I just wrapped up an R3 in Emergency Medicine after completing my family medicine training in the amazing Strathcona program. Now I’m finally settling into Campbell River working part-time in the ER and part-time doing family medicine in the community!

Best piece of advice you ever received:
Medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure to take time to take care of yourself now; you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Name: Jason Jeet Randhawa
Graduation Year: 2016
Current city: Kelowna

Describe your current practice (or training environment) in 1 or 2 sentences:
Adult neurologist in Kelowna, BC with clinical neurophysiology subspecialty training. I interpret neurodiagnostic studies at Kelowna General Hospital and remain active in teaching at the Southern Medical Program.

Best piece of advice you ever received:
If you have two equivalent options on how to proceed in a clinical situation, choose whatever option is more difficult for you as the clinician.

Dr. Sarah Purcell sits with food and measuring cups.UBC Okanagan professor Dr. Sarah Purcell is now being recognized as a world-class researcher.

As part of the latest funding announcement from the federal government, Dr. Purcell, an Assistant Professor in the Southern Medical Program and in the Department of Biology, is the new Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism in Chronic Disease.

Dr. Purcell, who is also an Investigator for the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, focuses her research on understanding human energy balance in people with chronic diseases, both through the food they’re eating and how that energy is burned.

Energy balance for people with chronic diseases—such as obesity, cancer or diabetes—hasn’t been as well studied as for healthy populations. However, chronic diseases can have significant impact on factors like appetite, physical activity levels and even how many calories someone might burn while at rest.

“I’m very honoured to receive this award,” says Dr. Purcell. “It’s going to help us understand these really complex questions of what impacts energy balance in people with chronic disease. Currently, there’s not enough data for these populations to have targeted and evidence-based recommendations for energy intake. In the big picture, perhaps in the next 20 years, I’d love to have more effective nutrition recommendations for these groups.”

Thanks to a partnership between the Canada Research Chair (CRC) program and the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s John R. Evans Leadership Fund, Dr. Purcell also received funding to build her lab at UBC Okanagan. This infrastructure will include equipment to measure body composition, or the amount of someone’s muscle and fat, as well as different tools for the lab to measure how many calories people burn and how much food they eat.

Dr. Purcell stands in front of open fridge and smiles at research participant.

In the Experimental Behaviour Kitchen, Dr. Purcell’s team prepares and measures the food research participants eat in order to accurately measure calorie consumption.

The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and of the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced support for over 4,700 researchers and research projects across Canada. These investments of over $960 million through grants, scholarships and programs are part of the government’s ongoing support for Canada’s research ecosystem.

In total, UBC Okanagan researchers were awarded more than $6 million from the combined announcements. Across both campuses, UBC received $68.4 million in funding.

UBC Okanagan is now home to eight Tier 2 Canada Research Chairs.

The federal government established the Canada Research Chairs program in 2000 to promote excellence and innovation in Canadian research centres. Chairholders are some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds, improving our depth of knowledge and quality of life, strengthening Canada’s international competitiveness and helping train the next generation of researchers.

The Southern Medical Program welcomes back new and returning students for the new school year. Learn more about some of our students and their path to studying medicine at UBC in the Interior Health region.

Aneesha Thouli, Year 4
Hometown: Kelowna

What inspired you to pursue your medicine?
Medicine was always interesting to me. The human body is incredible, and I wanted my career to help people in a meaningful way. I feel extremely grateful to play such an important part in a person’s life.

Why did you choose UBC?
You can’t go wrong with BC, Kelowna especially. Plus, it’s super cool to train in the same hospital I was born in!

If you could travel anywhere in B.C. where would you go and why?
I would love to go to Haida Gwaii and explore the nature there. Otherwise, Tofino to go surfing for sure!

Nicholas Reitsma, Year 3
Hometown: Kelowna

What inspired you to pursue your medicine?
Like many high school students, I grappled with choosing a suitable career path and exploring feasible options. Growing up, my parents emphasized the importance of giving back, making service-oriented work appealing. I also sought intellectual stimulation in my profession. While I didn’t have immediate family members in medicine, speaking to family friends in the field interested me. The balance of learning, service, and meaningful interactions with others drew me towards pursuing a career in medicine and I am so grateful I did.

Why did you choose UBC?
After only living in Kelowna for three years and graduating high school, I could not come to terms with leaving the beautiful mountains and lake. Fortunately, I also received an offer to play soccer for UBC Okanagan, making my decision to stay in Kelowna very easy. The opportunity to play the sport that I love while getting a world class education in one of the most beautiful places in the world was something I couldn’t pass up.

If you could travel anywhere in B.C. where would you go and why? 
If I could travel anywhere, it would definitely be somewhere on the island like Nanaimo. I haven’t spent any time exploring or relaxing on the island and I think that would be an awesome get away. Ideally, I would find a nice Airbnb on the water, with my fiancé and adorable puppy, and some good books. I would take full advantage of some time away from my everyday hustle and bustle and simply leave my phone on airplane mode as I spend a few days on my own schedule.

Kara Ruff, Year 2
Hometown: Campbell River

What inspired you to pursue your program?
I wanted a career where I could see the impact that I was having on others every day, and I find medicine fascinating. I also see healthcare changing in a positive manner in the way that it is delivered, and I want to be a part of and work toward that change.

Why did you choose UBC?
I chose the Southern Medical Program at UBC because it is a smaller site that allows me to connect better with my preceptors and peers, and I really enjoy the outdoorsy living that Kelowna has to offer!

If you could travel anywhere in B.C. where would you go and why?
I want to spend more time hiking, skiing, and exploring the Kootenay Mountain Region. This area has such quaint small towns and beautiful scenery, and I haven’t explored it yet as I grew up on the Island so mostly stayed on the Island.

Dr. Mike Bergunder has been appointed Interim Years 1 & 2 Site Director for the Southern Medical Program (SMP), effective August 1st, 2023. Dr. Bergunder is a staff physician and Head of the Emergency Department at Penticton Regional Hospital. In addition, he is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Department of Emergency Medicine and the current Portfolio Site Lead for the SMP.

Dr. Bergunder completed his medical degree at UBC, family medicine residency at the University of Alberta, and a fellowship in emergency medicine at UBC. Dr. Bergunder has supported learning opportunities for UBC medical students as a Case-Based Learning Instructor, Indigenous Cultural Safety Facilitator, and Portfolio Coach. Since January 2022, he has led the ongoing delivery of the SMP Portfolio program. Dr. Bergunder previously served as the Medical Director for Interior Health’s Rural & Remote Framework. Most recently, he completed a clinical fellowship with Health Quality BC, focusing on cultural safety and quality improvement.

As the Interim Years 1 & 2 Site Director, Dr. Bergunder will oversee Case-based Learning, lectures, workshops, and small group learning within the MEDD 411/412/421/422 courses except for those covered by the leadership of clinical skills and family practice.

The Southern Medical Program Excellence Awards recognize outstanding contributions to medical education from faculty and staff across the Interior Health region. The nomination and selection process is completely undertaken by current SMP students.

Congratulations to the 2023 honourees and thank you for your ongoing efforts.

Year 1 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award
Ms. Carri Folk, Admissions & Student Affairs Coordinator
Year 2 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award
Ms. Carling Matthews, Clinical Skills Coordinator—Years 1 & 2
Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Kamloops
Dr. Kayla Parker, Clinical Instructor, Department of Pediatrics
Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Kelowna
Dr. Bradley Merriman, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology & Therapeutics
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Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Trail (co-recipient)
Dr. Melissa Herr, Clinical Instructor, Department of Family Practice
Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Trail (co-recipient)
Dr. Matthew Halstead, Clinical Instructor, Department of Family Practice
Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Vernon Dr. Michael Horkoff, Clinical Instructor, Department of Surgery
Southern Medical Program Graduating Class Award (co-recipient)
Dr. Marjorie Docherty, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Practice
Southern Medical Program Graduating Class Award (co-recipient)
Ms. Doreen Welsh, 4th Year Electives & TIPP Program Coordinator (now retired)
Southern Medical Program Graduating Class Award (co-recipient)
Dr. Anise Barton, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery


The Southern Medical Program recently led a group of multi-disciplinary healthcare students on a week-long trek to rural communities in the Thompson region as part of the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow initiative.

The goal of the project is to inspire future healthcare professionals and gain exposure to the unique aspects of rural healthcare delivery. This year’s presentation included students from nursing, kinesiology, respiratory therapy, medical laboratory science, pharmacy, and medicine.

After a successful first stop in the community of Lillooet, they arrived in Cache Creek to a barrage of water running down the middle of the Trans-Canada highway. The water spilled into the Bonaparte River on both sides of Sandman Inn, threatening to flood the hotel where the group was booked for two nights.

“The situation was a bit chaotic as many locals worked frantically to protect businesses and homes from the rising water,” says Warren Brock, communications manager for the Southern Medical Program. “Our entire Roadshow team jump in without hesitation and helped bag sand for members of the Cache Creek community.”

Unfortunately, the presentation at Desert Sands School in Ashcroft was cancelled as a result of the flooding. The group re-routed to Kamloops for the day and then off to Chase for the final day of presentations at Chase Secondary School.

During the week, the healthcare students took advantage of opportunities to tour the Lillooet Hospital and the Chase Health Centre and to connect with local professionals to learn about the benefits and challenges of rural practice.

“Overall, it was an awesome experience despite the natural disaster,” adds Brock. “We would like to especially thank all of the students who checked out the presentations and learned more about the diversity of healthcare career options.”

The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow was originally developed at the University of Northern BC to help address rural healthcare workforce shortages. The Interior version of the roadshow is funded by Interior Health, the Rural Education Action Plan, and the Sothern Medical Program. Two roadshow presentations also visited communities in Northern BC this past month.


Dr. Olusegun (Segun) Oyedele has been appointed the new Assistant Dean for the Southern Medical Program, effective July 15, 2023. Dr. Oyedele is an Associate Professor of Teaching with the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, and current Site Lead for the Foundations of Medical Practice (MEDD) and Course Co-Lead for MEDD 412. Dr. Oyedele has been the lead Anatomy Instructor for the SMP since the program first launched.

Dr. Oyedele completed his medical education in Nigeria in 1993 and worked in General Practice, before earning his PhD in Developmental Biology at South Africa’s Witwatersrand University. He also served as a Senior Lecturer in anatomy and health sciences education at Witwatersrand University. Dr. Oyedele relocated with his family to Canada in 2011 and led foundational sciences education at SMP. Over the past 12 years, Dr. Oyedele helped to implement the renewed MD Undergraduate curriculum and has made tremendous contributions to the Faculty of Medicine at both regional and provincial levels. His research interests focus on medical education, particularly small-group learning pedagogies and how case-based learning equips medical students for clinical decision-making during clinical training and beyond. In 2017, Dr. Oyedele was honoured with the Canadian Association for Medical Education (CAME) Certificate of Merit award and was a recipient of the UBC Killam Teaching award in 2021.

As Assistant Dean, Dr. Oyedele will work collaboratively with the Regional Associate Dean, Interior, Assistant Deans from the Faculty of Medicine’s distributed education sites, and SMP clinical faculty leadership and staff to ensure the sustainable delivery of undergraduate medical education in the Interior Health region.

Congratulations to the Southern Medical Program Class of 2023. The SMP has educated and trained 270 new doctors since it first open its doors. We are truly fortunate to have the continued support from our program partners and the great number of communities that our program aims to serve.

Hear from some of our newest graduates on their UBC experience and what’s up next.

Marisa Levesque

What attracted you to your field?
I wanted to go into medicine from a young age. I was always drawn to caretaker roles, and throughout the years developed a strong passion for science and biology in particular, and medicine seemed like a great way to combine these passions and pursue a career where I can truly make a difference in people’s lives.

What is your favourite moment from your time at UBC?
It’s difficult to narrow down one favourite moment during my time at UBC, but all of my favourite moments are thanks to my classmates and peers – SMP is a tight knit and supportive group that loves to have fun together. From Big White retreats, beach days, and trivia nights to the everyday support and joking around (maybe a bit too much) on the wards, I’ll remember time spent with my classmates above all else.

What is one piece of advice you have for students entering your program?
Don’t take yourself too seriously, and you can’t learn if you don’t ask. We often feel we need to know everything, ace the exams, and never stumble over a question asked by a preceptor – but no one expects that from you, and expecting this from yourself can only lead to imposter syndrome. The best students admit what they don’t know, ask questions, and are open to learning from the experiences of others.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be sticking around Kelowna and starting residency with the UBC Kelowna Rural Family Practice program in July! Looking forward to seeing some SMP students on the wards.

What are you looking forward to most about the program you’ve matched to and the community you’ll be joining as a future resident?
I am excited for my program because Kelowna General Hospital is an excellent size for learning, with a wide variety of specialists and smaller number of learners meaning lots of one-on-one time with preceptors who have a passion for teaching. And of course, the Okanagan is a beautiful place to learn medicine! In my second year of residency I am looking forward to exploring some rural BC communities and gaining the wide breadth of knowledge and experience that comes with rural Family Practice.

Mitch Figura

What attracted you to your field?
One of the main things that drew me to medicine was a strong desire to work directly with people as much as possible. Meeting new people and listening to their stories has always helped to shape my own perspective on life. Medicine provides the opportunity to spend a lifetime learning from others along with the privilege of getting to use that knowledge to help people. I think that there is a beautiful harmony in this.

What is your favorite moment from your time at UBC?
This sentiment spans the entirety of my clerkship year in Kamloops. I started that journey alongside friends and ended it with lifelong connections. We leaned on each other for support when the times got tough, and definitely celebrated our successes in style. Late nights at the hospital, endless outdoor adventure, and “family dinners” crystalized for me what I want the rest of my life to look like.

What is one piece of advice you have for students entering your program?
Stay true to yourself. From application to graduation, the pursuit of medicine can include a lot of extra-curricular involvement, and it can be tempting to strategically seek out opportunities based purely on your career goals. Whether it is through research, volunteering, or personal endeavor, always strive to spend your time doing things which you genuinely find passion in. You will learn more about yourself, make life-long connections, and enrich your life rather than feeling like you are making compromises for your professional aspirations. There are many paths to success, always take the one on which you will be the happiest.

What’s next for you?
I have matched to UBC family medicine residency in Kamloops! Following residency, I am hoping to practice medicine rurally and am keen to acquire as many skills as possible to prepare me for this. Before the next chapter of my life starts in July, I am taking a month off to fly to Iceland with my bike for a bit of an adventure with some close friends.

What are you looking forward to most about the program you’ve matched to and the community you’ll be joining as a future resident?
There is a very strong and supportive medical community in Kamloops that I feel very grateful to be able to reconnect with. I was introduced to clinical medicine at RIH, and I feel a sense of congruency being able to complete my training there. I also feel fortunate to have matched to this program alongside two of my close friends. I am excited for the challenges and adventure that lie ahead of us.

Aashka Jani

What attracted you to your field?
I think it all started when my parents gifted me a doctor kit when I was younger. I’ve been interested in biology and physiology for as long as I can remember. Volunteer experiences and interactions in the health care system fostered my desire to pursue a career in medicine.

What is your favourite moment from your time at UBC?
It’s really hard to narrow it down to one moment! I’ll always look back on the times I was able to spend with my friends from studying at Bright Jenny to boat days and patio season.

What is one piece of advice you have for students entering your program?
My main piece of advice would be to find balance! Medicine is really great but can be all consuming, so it’s important to continue doing things you like to do and really take time for yourself.

What’s next for you?
I’m headed off to Regina for obstetrics and gynecology!

Peter Singh

What attracted you to your field?
Having majored in psychology, people often assumed I would pursue psychiatry so I held an active intention to keep an open mind during medical school. While I immensely enjoyed much of clerkship, I really did find my calling in psychiatry in which we have the privilege of viewing the patient as whole—an amalgamation of their thoughts, emotions and behaviours. And while this can present a unique set of challenges or complexity of care, we have an incredible team with diverse assets and I often found myself looking forward to working with these deeply unselfish interdisciplinary teams.

What is your favourite moment from your time at UBC?
It’s so difficult to choose just one moment! The common denominator was that these moments were shared with friends I made during medical school, both inside the hospital and out. Although dyeing my hair green with my classmate Caroline just might be one of my favorites!

What is one piece of advice you have for students entering your program?
My one piece of advice would be to just cherish these moments. We are so privileged to study medicine, however, it is a lifelong learning process that requires balance. Don’t be afraid to meet that friend for dinner, or go for that hike, or attend that concert.

What’s next for you?
While I am so grateful to have had the privilege to live, work, and play on the lands of the Syilx people these last few years, I am so grateful to return to my hometown of Surrey (Kwantlen, Katzie, and Semiahmoo lands) and attend the Fraser Psychiatry Residency Program at UBC!

What are you looking forward to most about the program you’ve matched to and the community you’ll be joining as a future resident?
I’m excited to a join a group of like-minded colleagues, enthusiastic teaching-oriented staff, and enjoy the awesome restaurants in the Fraser Valley!

Remi Kandal

What attracted you to your field?
I was drawn to medicine for so many reasons, from my mother being a nurse, to interacting with the healthcare system at various stages throughout my life. I wanted to help patients and their families find answers and be a source of strength for others.

What is your favourite moment from your time at UBC?
The program-wide retreat at the beginning of first year, Camp Make Friends, will always be one of my favourite memories from med school!  It was great to connect with everyone in the program.

What is one piece of advice you have for students entering your program?
Embrace as much of the program as possible: get involved in clubs, interest groups, sports teams, or student leadership. You’ll get as much out of the program as you put into it, and find some amazing friends along the way.

What’s next for you?
I’m going back home to Vancouver to start my dream residency in Emergency Medicine!

What are you looking forward to most about the program you’ve matched to and the community you’ll be joining as a future resident?
I’m looking forward to all of the amazing opportunities and individuals within the program, as well as going back to serve the community that I grew up in.