UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 02 | Jan.
Plan aims to train more rural doctors
UBC builds partnerships with hospitals, other universities and clinics
by Hilary Thomson staff writer
A plan for increased medical student enrolment and
to address issues of education, supply and retention of doctors in
including rural and underserved areas, has been proposed by UBC.
The Provincial Medical Education Plan (PMEP) -- which would be unique
in Canada -- is contained in a discussion paper that calls for
other B.C. universities to increase education opportunities throughout
the province for students in the UBC Faculty of Medicine,
The plan also seeks to address a demographically driven doctor shortage.
Students would have the opportunity to spend as much as half of
education at other B.C. Universities in conjunction with
clinical and medical practices, while obtaining their medical
degree from UBC.
These sites would offer education and experiences
relevant to health
practice issues in rural and underserved areas.
"This plan brings together medical education and health resources throughout
the province to improve access to health care," says Barry McBride,
UBC's vice-president, Academic.
"Creating teaching partnerships with B.C.'s other universities and
community health services is both a cost-effective and educationally
effective way to address the province's health-care needs."
According to the plan, student enrolment at UBC's medical school would
increase from the current 128 students to 200 students registered
annually by 2006, with a corresponding increase in the number of residency or
specialist training positions.
"This plan is a major step forward as B.C. takes responsibility for
educating a greater proportion of the physicians needed by British Columbia.
The community partnerships will ensure that graduates gain the skills and build
the relationships that will suit them for practice in currently underserved
areas," says Medicine Dean John Cairns.
As a first concrete step in carrying forward the vision, UBC and the
University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) announced a plan for a
Northern Medical Program that will offer education to 15-20 medical
The northern program is designed to attract rural, northern and aboriginal
students to complete part of their education at UNBC. The program also
envisions an opportunity for all medical students to enrol in a rural medical
"The Northern Medical Program is a significant step forward in
in B.C. It creates the opportunity to train physicians in
the North for
practice in northern and rural communities," says Charles
"UVic is strongly supportive of this system-wide approach," says Dr.
David Turpin, president of the University of Victoria. "Our
population of seniors provides some insight into the issues that Canada and
its aging population will face. That, combined with UVic's
teaching strengths in health-related fields, its involvement with
the new cancer
research program on Vancouver Island and our Centre on Aging,
20 more spaces for medical education and provide those students with a solid
grounding in some of the key issues of the future."
For more information on UBC's program, visit
Information on the Northern Medical Program may be found at www.unbc.ca.