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. Allan Jones, regional associate dean, Interior, with some of the medical students who will be attending the program at the Okanagan campus in January. They are, from left: Ashley Shaw, Chase; Robyn Buna, Kelowna; Ellen Cai, Penticton; Christabelle Bitgood, Kelowna; Brennan Arduini, Kamloops; and Daniel Manders, Summerland. The students begin their training next week at UBC’s Vancouver campus before returning to the Interior in the New Year.

Getting their education in the Interior is important to future physicians

The Southern Medical Program (SMP) has arrived at UBC’s Okanagan campus and students are eager to start their education in the medical doctor undergraduate program. Six of the “MD Class of 2015” toured the campus this week, met with Dr. Allan Jones, regional associate dean, and were introduced to local media.

The intake of 32 students in the first year of the SMP join their colleagues from three other sites of UBC’s MD Undergraduate Program and begin their first semester in Vancouver, before returning to the BC Interior for the remainder of  their four years of medical education and training. Distribution and expansion of the MD program in the Interior is made possible by partnerships between the BC provincial government, the Faculty of Medicine and Interior Health.

“We consider UBC’s MD Program to be a provincial program now,” says Jones. “Instead of being limited to a single site, it’s four sites across the province.”

The four distinct regions include the SMP in the Interior, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program in Vancouver, the Island Medical Program in Victoria and Northern Medical Program in Prince George. The addition of the SMP brings the total number of annual medical seats in the province to 288 from 256. In their third and fourth years, the students will take clerkships at locations throughout the Interior.

The six SMP students on campus Monday say their education will benefit from studying close to home.

“I have a lot of family here,” says Daniel Manders, 20, of Summerland. “I’m really looking forward to this. It’s going to be a great career and I’ll have great family support.”

Robyn Buna, 22, of Kelowna says she looks forward to the small class sizes as well as connecting with her colleagues on other campuses via videoconferencing. “I hope there are different ways we can take our interests outside the classroom, through our learning teams and one-on-one,” she says. “I’m just excited to get started. These four years are going to go by fast.”

Christabelle Bitgood, 24, of Kelowna, says the Interior is home to her and she plans to live here after graduating as a physician. “If you are going to practice here, it’s just good sense to be taught by the physicians who are practicing here.”

Jones says this first class of the medical program in the Interior is breaking new ground. “Essentially, most of our students like the idea of being pioneers. They’re an adventurous group and I look forward to working with them.”


Health Sciences Centre at UBC's Okanagan campus

The Southern Medical Program has admitted its inaugural class of 32 students as part of the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Class of MD 2015. Starting in September, SMP students will begin the first months of the MD Program at UBC’s Point Grey alongside the other 256 MD 2015s. The addition of the SMP has now brought the number of annual medical school seats up to 288 offered in four distinct regions across the province.

“The admission of our inaugural class of learners is a significant milestone for our program,” said Dr. Jones, Regional Associate Dean, Interior. “As the newest additional program to UBC’s medical school, we have taken great steps to ensure our learners are provided with the same level of education and depth of experiences as their regional counterparts. We are excited for our graduating class of 2015 to begin their studies and look forward to personally greeting each of them during Orientation Week.”

In early January, students from each of the distributed program will transition to their respective sites in Kelowna – SMP, Victoria – Island Medical Program, Prince George – Northern Medical Program. The balance of students will remain in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Fraser Medical Program.

SMP students will be arriving on UBC’s Okanagan campus in early January to continue their Year 1 studies at the brand new Health Sciences Centre (HSC). The final building component of the HSC is the installation of the videoconferencing equipment, slated for later this year in advance of the students’ arrival.

UK medical student, Tiffany Vracas

In completing the final component of her UK medical degree, Tiffany Vracas selected two international elective placements to explore different medical professions and cultures. Her first stop was Hong Kong working in a private practice for four weeks. Her next stop was Kamloops for a four-week, General Surgery elective placement at Royal Inland Hospital.

Based on the advice of a UK colleague and having previously vacationed in Canada, Vracas believed she could gain valuable experience by training at a full-teaching hospital situated in a smaller, more rural setting. “After reviewing all of my available options, Royal Inland Hospital seemed to provide me with the best of both worlds,” said Vracas.  

Vracas was teamed up with Dr. Anise Barton, General Surgeon at Royal Inland Hospital and Co-Site Clerkship Education Lead in Kamloops for the Southern Medical Program (SMP). Together with Dr. Barton, she was able to easily map out her learning objectives and immediately start working with preceptors and patients. Starting in 2013, Royal Inland Hospital will be one of the primary sites for Year 3 SMP students completing their Traditional Clerkships rotations.

“Royal Inland Hospital provided some great advantages for my medical training,” said Vracas. “There was excellent exposure to both patients and preceptors and I was able to easily follow patients through their entire cycle of care. I was virtually able to learn more in four weeks than I could in half a year at a larger teaching-facility in the UK.  All of the preceptors were enthusiastic about teaching students and really accommodating to my training needs.”

Vracas, an avid outdoor recreationalist, captured a small glimpse of what Kamloops and the region has to offer during her stay. Having arrived just after Sun Peaks closed for the ski season, she was able to take several hiking trips in the area  including a trek to the world-renowned Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

As for Canadian culture, Vracas arrived on the first day of the Stanley Cup playoffs and quickly caught a case of Canucks fever. After a quick course in Hockey 101, Vracas embraced the Canucks as her team, even spending the remainder of her student budget on authentic Canucks jersey. Returning to the UK, she has faced the challenge of catching the remainder of the playoff-run in a country that is not so hockey-centric.

Vracas now enters her two years of pre-specialty training as a Foundation Doctor (FY). As for her desired speciality, she is currently learning towards Intensive Care, Anesthesology, or Pre-hospital Care.  She is also examining the possibility of completing her FY training as an expedition doctor accompanying grade schools students on research expeditions in South America or the Antarctic. A possible return to practice in Canada is a future consideration.

Third-year UBC medical students train at Kelowna General Hospital. About 200 UBC medical students have received training at KGH during the past three years.

Hospital to receive its initial group of 1st-year students in January 2012.

By J.P. Squire – The Daily Courier

The medical students are coming.

The first fresh faces from UBC’s medical school will arrive in the Southern Interior in September.  These third-year students will go to hospitals in Vernon, Kamloops and Trail in pilot projects.

The first wave of first-year medical students will arrive in Kelowna in January 2012, forever changing Kelowna General Hospital.

View full Kelowna Daily Courier article

From February 28 to March 4, the Southern Medical Program held a Prototypical Week at UBC’s Okanagan campus and the Clinical Academic Campus at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH). The Prototypical Week provided an important assessment of SMP’s readiness to accept Year 1 UBC medical students in the fall of 2011. Additionally, it supports the ongoing quality assurance of UBC’s distributed MD Undergraduate Program as a whole.

Eight Year 1 medical students (pictured above) from UBC’s Vancouver Fraser Medical Program (VFMP) took part in the Prototypical Week and complete one full week of study. Students shared the same curriculum, course load, and clinical training as their colleagues in the VFMP, the Island Medical Program in Victoria, and the Northern Medical Program in Prince George.

Students studied at the UBC Okanagan campus throughout the week and participated  in clinical skills training at the Clinical Academic Campus and various Family Physicians offices in Kelowna and Vernon.

VFMP Students: Jennifer Cutting, Ben Trepanier, Gavin Docherty, Katherine Shoults, Amy Kluftinger, Alexander Ednie, Maria Kovalik, Kelsey Stearns.

Eleven UBC medical students appeared more like family during their visit to Trail this weekend. The trip ended with a luncheon hosted by Dr. Cheryl Hume and her husband Dr. Ralph Behrens, where the crew fell in love with the family dog, Oscar.

By Val Rossi – Trail Daily Times

Trail gave eager medical students a taste of the area this weekend when 11 hopeful applicants met with local professionals.

Dr. Cheryl Hume hosted the visit, which will ultimately help a panel select two third-year UBC medical students to work in Trail for a year starting in September.

View full Trail Daily Times article

Trail’s Dr. Cheryl Hume met with Dr. Allan Jones, associate regional dean for the Southern Medical Program, on Monday to announce the news that KBRH will be a training facility for two third-year UBC medical students.

By Val Rossi – Trail Daily Times

Starting in September, Trail’s hospital will be one of a few facilities to kickstart a new program that looks to attract medical professionals to rural areas in the Interior.

Two third-year UBC medical students will be selected to live and work in Trail for a year, where they’ll follow patients through the cycle of care – from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up.

View full Trail Daily Times article

For Immediate Release – February 21, 2011

Faculty of Medicine interior-health

TRAIL – A new partnership between the UBC Faculty of Medicine Southern Medical Program (SMP) and Interior Health will bring health professional training to Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH).

Starting in September 2011, the Greater Trail community will host one of SMP’s Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC) pilot programs. The ICC provides Year 3 medical students with an exceptional opportunity to gain clinical training while experiencing the benefits of practicing medicine in a smaller, rural community setting. Unlike traditional clerkships held in larger city centres, the ICC exposes students to a model of patient care whereby Family Physicians work in close collaboration with an extensive network of specialists within the context of a community. Medical students follow patients through the cycle of care, from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up. ICC students will spend an entire year in Trail and care for patients in both hospital and ambulatory settings.

As an integral component of UBC’s distributed medical program, the ICC supports the overall goal to increase the number of practicing physicians in smaller and rural communities throughout the province.

“The doctors and nurses in Trail are extremely busy with their patient care responsibilities and we are very pleased the medical community has embraced our program and its students,” says Dr. Allan Jones, Regional Associate Dean, Interior. “Hopefully in the long term, our presence will lighten the pressure on physician recruitment and retention in the Southern Interior.”

The Trail pilot program is a direct result of strong collaboration between the SMP, Interior Health, KBRH medical staff, and the Greater Trail community.

“Research shows that medical students who train in a site like Trail are more inclined to return to that site when they complete their studies. Interior Health is excited to welcome the UBC Faculty of Medicine to Trail and we look forward to building a lasting partnership that benefits UBC medical students, our local clinicians, and, most importantly, the patients who access care at our sites,” says Norman Embree, IH Board Chair.

On February 26 and 27, eleven UBC medical students will visit Trail to determine whether they plan to apply for one of two positions available for the pilot program. Their visit will include a tour of KBRH and the community combined with meetings with representatives from the SMP, Interior Health, and KBRH.

Based in the Interior of BC, the SMP is the fourth site in UBC’s distributed MD undergraduate program, with 32 students starting in 2011. The program will expand to 128 students across all four years in 2014. Trail is one of two locations for the SMP pilot program, along with Vernon, another ICC site in the Interior.


For more information, contact:
Warren Brock
Admissions & Communications Coordinator
Southern Medical Program – University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine
Phone: (250) 980-1330 Email: warren.brock@ubc.ca


UBC Distributed Medical Program

Since expansion began in 2004, the UBC Faculty of Medicine, in partnership with the Provincial government, academic partners University of Victoria (UVic) and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), and all six provincial health authorities, has more than doubled enrolment and bolstered clinical training, health sciences research and teaching across British Columbia. Distributed medical education aims to increase the number of physicians in British Columbia, including more rural and aboriginal students seeking medical careers. Medical education opportunities outside of urban centres allow students to complete their training in rural and underserved communities, where, as studies suggest, they are more likely to return to practise once their training is complete.

Medical education and training for students and residents is provided at more than 80 hospitals and clinical sites around BC as well as at the three affiliated universities. The first distributed class of 195 students graduated in 2008, with 60 percent matching to residency training programs in British Columbia, and 40 percent choosing to train as family doctors.

Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC)

The UBC Faculty of Medicine MD undergraduate program offers Integrated Community Clerkships in Chilliwack, Duncan, Terrace, and Fort St. John. In 2011, two pilot ICCs in Vernon and Trail, located within the SMP region, will receive their first students. The ICC programs in Trail and Vernon follow a similar clinical and teaching model. The ICC student support systems in Vernon and Trail are identical.

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH)

KBRH preceptors have a strong track record in medical education. There have been over 80 medical students at KBRH during the past 3 years including UBC students completing their Year 3 Rural Family Practice rotation and Year 4 students doing Family Practice and Speciality electives. Students have given excellent feedback about the quality of their clinical experiences and teaching at KBRH.

Health Sciences Centre

The Health Sciences Centre is in the final stages of completion for the arrival of our inaugural class.


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