Now is the time newly graduated doctors begin postgraduate training in B.C. hospitals. For the first time, some internal medicine and emergency medicine residents will complete their entire training in communities outside of Vancouver.
As a child, Jess Paul spent many long hours at BC Children’s Hospital watching intently from the bedside as doctors and nurses cared for her brother. Amid the busy hospital wards and the unfortunate circumstances of family illness, Paul dreamed of becoming a doctor, and one day helping patients and families, like her own, overcome illness.
On July 1, Paul, an Abbotsford native, donned her long white coat, and set out through the labyrinthine halls of Royal Columbian Hospital on her way to see her first patient.
“The first time I saw one of my patients I said, ‘Hello Mr. So-and-So, my name is Jess. I mean, ur, Dr. Paul, but you can call me Jess,’” says Paul.
Though the title may seem awkward to Paul, she has turned her childhood dreams into reality, as a resident in UBC’s new Emergency Medicine Program based in the Fraser Health region.
Such postgraduate programs are central to the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s vision for transforming the landscape of medical education in B.C. by increasing the number of doctors in training, and placing trainees in communities where doctors are needed most. In 2013, a number of new community-based residency programs have opened their doors, including emergency medicine and internal medicine in Victoria, as well as family medicine in Comox.
“There’s a great need for more emergency physicians. If we were to try to train all of those physicians at VGH, there’s a lack of room for them to get the learning experiences they need.” Dr. Caroline Tyson.
“We feel it is important for our postgraduate residents to be exposed to the unique aspects of various communities across B.C.,” says Dr. Roger Wong, associate dean of postgraduate medical education. “We also feel that when doctors are trained in those communities there is an increased likelihood that they will choose to remain in those communities thereafter.”
Though residents in emergency medicine and internal medicine have long completed rotations in hospitals across the province, the launch of these new programs mark the first time their entire training will be spent in a community outside of Vancouver. Dr. Caroline Tyson, Fraser Emergency Medicine program director, sees this as a win-win for the communities and learners.
“There’s a great need for more emergency physicians. If we were to try to train all of those physicians at VGH, there’s a lack of room for them to get the learning experiences they need,” says Tyson. “At the same time, we have excellent facilities throughout the province, including Royal Columbian and Fraser Health, so the idea of distributing that learning across sites is a way of dealing with the physical space constraints and still having the well-established UBC program be the template for the teaching.”
Margaret Zhang had such a positive experience at Royal Columbian Hospital as a medical student that she chose to return there as part of the Fraser Emergency Medicine program.
“I found that I really enjoyed the people who worked here, the collegiality stood out for me,” says Zhang. “I felt the hospital had a good balance: you have a lot of patients, and you get to see a lot of pathology, but you also get attention from your staff, and I felt like there was a good emphasis on education and working as a team.”
Though only a few weeks into their program, Paul and Zhang’s learning has ranged from navigating the complexities of hospital forms and logistics to the nuances of communicating across cultures with patients and family members from the many ethnic backgrounds that make the Fraser Valley so diverse.
They’re also learning about the rigours of the emergency room.
“When you’re on call for 24 hours, that’s the most compact, greatest learning you can get,” says Paul. “So I have learned so many things so far, and I’m excited to learn more.”