Warren Brock

Communications Manager

Southern Medical Program
Office: Reichwald Health Sciences Centre
Phone: 250.807.8601
Email: warren.brock@ubc.ca


Join us as students from the Southern Medical Program and research interns with BC Cancer Kelowna present their research projects over the summer.

Learn more about interesting research supported through the Faculty of Medicine’s Summer Student Research Program and BC Cancer Internship Program.

Time:  12:00 to 1:00 PM
Location: Okanagan Room at BC Cancer Kelowna, 399 Royal Avenue, Kelowna, BC
Dates: July 4, July 18th, August 1st, August 15th, August 29th

Presentations are free to attend and open to the public. For more info, contact celine.edwards@bccancer.bc.ca.

Each year, Southern Medical Program (SMP) students recognize outstanding faculty and staff across the BC Interior for making exceptional contributions to their medical education.

Congratulations to the 2019 honourees and thank you for your dedication and commitment to the medical education excellence for SMP students.

Year 1 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award
Year 2 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award
Matt Daalder, Laboratory Assistant



Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Kamloops
Dr. Remy Wong, Clinical Instructor, UBC Department of Medicine




Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Kelowna
Amy Zimmer, Year 3 Program Coordinator




Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Trail
Dr. Libby McCoid, Clinical Instructor, UBC Department of Family Practice




Year 3 Southern Medical Program Excellence Award – Vernon
Dr. Nicholas Half, Clinical Instructor, UBC Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology




Southern Medical Program Graduating Class Award
Dr. Jeff Douziech, Clinical Instructor, UBC Department of Psychiatry




Southern Medical Program Graduating Class Award
Dr. Trent Smith, Clinical Assistant Professor, UBC Department of Pediatrics




The 2019 UBC Okanagan Interdisciplinary Student Health Conference was held earlier this year at the Clinical Academic Campus at Kelowna General Hospital.

Students from the Southern Medical Program, UBC Okanagan, and BC Cancer-Kelowna presented their research and public health experiences to local healthcare professionals and the community. Thanks to all of our participants and congratulations to this year’s conference honourees.

Clinical Care
Top Honours: Dakota Peacock, Southern Medical Program; Title: Needs Assessment of Rural Telemedicine Care for Parkinson Disease in British Columbia
Honourable Mention: Hannah Dreksler, Southern Medical Program; Title: What is the Cost of a “Cast Holiday” in Treating Children with Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS) with Elongation Derotation Flexion (EDF, “Mehta”) Casting?

Top Honours: Peter Baumeister, Southern Medical Program; Title: Cadaveric Anatomical Education – Quality Improvement through Index Card
Honourable Mention: Ellen Gates, UBCO Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Title: Signaling Between Gut Microbiota and Immune Cells of the Brain  

Public Health
Top Honours: Sarah Daniels, UBCO Department of Psychology; Clinical Psychology; Title: Prenatal Cannabis Use: Therapeutic Use and Pharmacological Substitution in a Prenatal Sample
Honourable Mention: Bhavan Panghali, Southern Medical Program; Title: A Qualitative Study of the Efficacy of Implementing Health Record Cards for Nepalese Children at Sonrisa Orphanage

Top Honours: Stefanie Ciszewski, UBCO Department of Psychology; Clinical Psychology; Title: Small-Change Behavioural Intervention Approaches to Weight Loss: A Systematic Review
Honourable Mention: Kasia Niewinski, UBCO Arts, Psychology; Title: The Role of Psychopathic Traits in the Perception of Pain in Others
Honourable Mention: Victoria Scotney, UBCO Arts, Psychology; Title: Gender Bias in the Perception and Treatment of Pain

The SMP Class of 2019 took part in their official hooding and graduation ceremonies took place in Vancouver on May 21 and 22, 2019. We wish them the best of luck for their residency and hope to see them back in the Interior in the not so distant future.

Read the SMP Class of 2019 Graduation Newsletter.

Claire MacKinlay

Hometown: Kamloops

What attracted you to the field of medicine?
From the outside, medicine promises to be the perfect combination of being both a scientific expert and someone who can affect change through positive impact on others. And you know what…it delivers! I feel so lucky all the time for the opportunity to be part of this unique profession.

In 10 years, what UBC moment will you still be talking about?
Lots, I’m sure, but a few that come to mind are the early OR bloopers (details omitted to save face), class trips, rural experiences, and that lecturer who jumps on the desk every year preaching about children who vomit green.

What’s next for you?
I’m privileged to be heading home to Kamloops for my family residency training, and taking a few SMP friends with me! I’m want to spend the coming years developing a broad skill set that will allow me to engage in the full breadth family medicine has to offer and do some work in rural communities.

As you look ahead, what (or who) inspires you?
Even since before starting medical school, I’ve been contemplating how as physicians, we have a privileged position that can be used to lead change, both in our communities and on a global scale. It continues to inspire me to question the status quo and think about social justice. I’ve met some really wonderful physician mentors throughout my training, some in real life and others only through their work. Lately, I’m really inspired by both Atul Gawande and his focus on improving patient care and my older sister who is 9 years ahead of me in her career path with a thriving and diverse clinical practice and a healthy work-life balance. Also, Beyonce.

Name one thing on your bucket list.
Star in a broadway play…or at the very least make it to New York to watch one.


Taran Main

Hometown: Armstrong, BC

What attracted you to the field of medicine?
I remember when I was 6 years old, I went to my family doctor for an ear infection. He made me feel safe and cared for and he even gave me a red lollipop at the end of the appointment! He then sent me home with delicious banana flavored antibiotics that made the pain in my ears go away. Except with hindsight, it was probably self limiting and really all I needed was time. That sparked my interest in medicine. I worked in several other professions, but I would always come back to medicine. I look forward to an incredibly rewarding career in family medicine and (hopefully) addictions medicine.

In 10 years, what UBC moment will you still be talking about?
I will look back fondly at just how supportive and incredible everyone in SMP was during my medical training and how it positively impacted and influenced me.

What’s next for you?
I matched to Rural Family Medicine in Kelowna where my wife and I hope to stay when I graduate. My passion in medicine revolves around working with populations who are experiencing homelessness, substance use and mental illness. I look forward to continuing to explore this area of medicine as I continue my medical training and start my career.

As you look ahead, what (or who) inspires you?
My faith is at the center of what inspires me in medicine. It pushes me to strive to be more “Christ-like” and provide unconditional, compassionate, non-judgemental care to patients as I walk with them in their lives. I have also had the opportunity to work with some truly inspiring preceptors that are the most compassionate caregivers and really emulate what it means to be a physician as well as how to have a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Name one thing on your bucket list.
Go dog sledding to the North Pole!

Ali Silver

Hometown: Victoria

What attracted you to the field of medicine?
I’ve always been fascinated by human anatomy with its variant structures and pathologies – in fact, as a 12-year-old, I opted to read an anatomy atlas instead of a fiction on a family vacation. However, I began my undergraduate degree studying Fine Art, and it wasn’t until I realized I missed learning about human sciences that I considered pursing medicine. At that time, I looked up the curriculum for Canadian medical schools, and saw blocks of “neurology”, “cardiology”, reproductive health”, etc. I couldn’t shake the idea of getting to learn all about the human body and all about how to diagnose and treat medical conditions. I had to learn it, it was everything I wanted to know and do. After four years at the SMP, I still feel every bit as excited and passionate about medicine.

In 10 years, what UBC moment will you still be talking about?
I have had so, so many amazing times at UBC over the past four years, it’s hard to narrow it down to one. If I have to decide, I think the memory I will still be talking about is the time our class got together at the end of year 3 for a potluck dinner at our classmate’s house on Okanagan Lake. Everyone was there, we had a big fire, and we just talked about how nervous and excited we all were to start our fourth year elective adventures. It felt like being with family. Match day, of course, was another extremely special day for everyone at the SMP!

What’s next for you?
I matched to UBC Radiology! I will be moving to Vancouver with my partner Will, getting a dog and settling back on the coast. Visual diagnostics have always really appealed to me – radiologists have the privilege of exploring the body as profession, and the sheer volume of daily cases that they see exposes them to rare and unpredictable findings in every organ system. I am extremely excited to focus my energy on this specialty.

As you look ahead, what (or who) inspires you?
I am always inspired by my classmates/colleagues. My friends in medicine show me every day how to balance being a dedicated learner, a hard working teammate, and a good friend. They motivate me to keep doing the best I can by setting good examples. I know that they will continue to inspire me throughout my residency.

Name one thing on your bucket list.
I’ve always wanted to do a walking tour of Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Alexander (Sandy) Wright, a newly graduated doctor from the Southern Medical Program (SMP), has seen his share of ‘firsts’ while attending UBC.

Wright was one of the first 32 students admitted as part of the SMP’s inaugural class. They began their studies at UBC Okanagan in January 2012.

“Showing up in Kelowna as part of the first class—the faculty, staff and community embraced us whole-heartedly,” says Wright. “It has been a real privilege to participate in the new program. The opportunities and experiences provided to us were unparalleled.”

It was during his first year of medical school that Wright’s passion and background in research led him to pursue enrolment with the Faculty of Medicine’s combined MD/PhD program. The seven-year intensive program offers students the opportunity to combine their medical education with demanding scientific training.

Wright graduates in May as the first UBC medical student to complete their MD/PhD at one of the Faculty of Medicine’s distributed medical programs.

For his PhD work, Wright teamed up with UBC Okanagan concussion researcher Professor Paul van Donkelaar to explore the effects of sports-related concussions on various aspects of brain physiology, including control of brain blood flow. Wright worked extensively with UBC Okanagan Heat Athletics and local junior athletic teams for data collection. Their work has helped shaped the latest international guidelines for concussion management.

Coincidentally, it was while studying concussions that Wright suffered a severe concussion while playing in a recreational hockey game in Kelowna. His post-concussion symptoms sidelined him from his research and studies for nearly seven months.

Ultimately, he views the experience of this injury as a pivotal learning experience for both his research and his future medical career.

“Going through such a complicated recovery process not only gave me new perspectives into post-concussion syndrome, but also a better understanding of mental health in general,” says Wright. “My physical symptoms eventually settled, but the emotional symptoms took much longer to subside. Having this experience has genuinely helped me to better understand and communicate with my patients and contribute to research.”

After nearly eight years in Kelowna, Dr. Wright now heads off to Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan for residency training in ophthalmology. He heads to the Land of the Living Skies with his wife and two young daughters for the next five years – parenthood was another first during his time at UBC.

“Ophthalmology is such a beautiful intersection between medicine and surgery,” says Wright. “Amongst other things, the eye-based manifestations of systemic disease and nuances of the eye-brain axis provide great intellectual stimulation, while the procedures are delicate and precise. Above all, I look forward to the immense impact we can have on patients’ quality of life. The discipline is the perfect blend of all facets of my personality and interests.”

Similar to what drew him to the smaller class size at the SMP, Wright joins the Saskatchewan program that welcomes only one new ophthalmology resident each year.

“There will be no shortage of hands-on opportunities,” says Wright. “Ultimately, there is no substitute for experience in learning how to be excellent at your craft.”

As for his long-term plans, a return to Kelowna might be in the future.

“I like to set flag posts off in the distance at 10 to 20 year intervals and aim towards them,” adds Wright. “A lot can change over the next five-to-seven years of training, but I would really value the opportunity to return to the Okanagan to practice and to contribute to medical education at the SMP.”

Emma Garson was just 16 years old when she discovered medicine could offer the perfect balance for her passion for science and her desire to give back to the community.

After assisting her grandmother’s post-surgery recovery and supporting her father’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Garson developed a keen sense of what great patient care should look like and how she could make a difference.

Garson is now a newly-minted doctor from the Southern Medical Program (SMP) at UBC Okanagan. This summer, she returns to her hometown of Kamloops to complete residency training in family medicine.

Her initial leanings towards to family medicine as a career solidified during her first-year training experience with a family physician in Kelowna.

“My preceptor showed how valuable family medicine can be from a chronic disease management perspective and the importance of great working relationships with your patients,” says Garson. “The doctor truly gave his time to his patients, never made them feel rushed, and was an excellent role model.”

Garson acknowledges her generalist personality fits nicely with family medicine and the ability to develop a variety of skill sets. During the next two years, she plans to tailor her residency training based on the needs of the community.

“I am interested in finding what my patients need and letting that help shape my learning,” she adds. “It will allow me to better serve the Kamloops community, where I hope to one day practice.”

Garson’s hometown roots have remained firmly planted throughout her academics. After graduating from Thompson Rivers University with a Bachelor’s of Science, she jumped at the opportunity to complete her medical degree with the SMP including a year at Royal Inland Hospital.

“Kamloops is a unique and supportive environment that fosters good clinical skills and learning,” she says. “The collegiality of the healthcare teams at the hospital and in the community is an attribute that I really came to value.”

Garson excitedly returns home with two fellow SMP graduates and Kamloops locals for the next two years.

“I can definitely see myself working in the community as part of a team, possibly with a focus in palliative care,” adds Garson. “It’s what prompted this whole process in the first place, and remains near and dear to my heart.”

A message from Dermot Kelleher, Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Vice-President, Health, The University of British Columbia and Roger Wong, Executive Associate Dean, Education, Faculty of Medicine, The University of British Columbia

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Sarah Brears as Interim Regional Associate Dean, Interior for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2019.

In this role, Dr. Brears will be responsible for providing strategic leadership of the Faculty’s undergraduate and postgraduate medical education programs for the Interior. This includes working collaboratively with partners, including Interior Health and UBC Okanagan, to ensure a high-quality educational experience for all our learners in the region, as well as facilitating the health research strategy for the Interior.

Dr. Brears is a Clinical Assistant Professor with the Department of Family Medicine. Since joining the SMP in 2012, she has served as the Family Practice Site Director for Years 1 and 2, as well as the Clinical Experiences Integration Co-Lead (since 2015) and the MEDD 422 Course Co-Director (since 2018). Prior to joining the SMP, Dr. Brears was a Clinical Lecturer in the University of Alberta’s Department of Family Medicine, and the Regional Site Coordinator for the Alberta Rural Family Medicine Network in Grand Prairie.

Dr. Brears’ appointment follows the leadership of Dr. Allan Jones as the inaugural Regional Associate Dean, Interior from March 1, 2009 to June 30, 2019. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Jones for his exceptional contributions and leadership in launching and establishing the SMP.

The recruitment process for the role of Regional Associate Dean, Interior is currently underway. We encourage all members of the SMP community to get involved in this process. A further communication will follow.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Brears on her interim appointment to this role.