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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 8 | Sep. 2, 2004

University of Victoria will be Home for Widely Travelled Student

Few Canadian Teenagers were Witness to the Horrors of Rwanda’s 1994 Bloody Civil War

By Hilary Thomson

UBC medical student Michelle Tousignant, 14 years old at the time, was there visiting her father who was part of the United Nations Assistance Mission. She says watching the Red Cross in action during the conflict strongly influenced her decision to become a doctor.

The 24-year old has just started her first year of UBC’s medical undergraduate program, one of 24 students admitted to the Island Medical Program (IMP) -- part of the Faculty of Medicine’s expanded medical education program.

“I have always had a strong pull towards health and healing,” says the well-travelled Tousignant, who says she grew up as a “military brat.”

“I was truly inspired by what I saw -- it was a big driving force for me,” she says.

After high-school graduation in Belgium, she traveled to Honduras to work in rural health clinics and hospitals and “loved it.”

A kinesiology grad from University of Victoria, Tousignant was attracted to the IMP because she felt she had roots -- for the first time in her life -- on Vancouver Island and because she would be learning with a small group of students, an experience she had enjoyed as an undergrad.

Students in the IMP and the Northern Medical Program are rated on a rural suitability index as part of the admissions process. Tousignant’s interest in rural areas has much to do with her love of outdoor activities, especially skiing and snowboarding.

“I’m going into medicine with a really open mind in terms of where I’ll end up,” she says. “I’m looking at smaller communities close to ski hills, but who knows, I may change my mind more than once in the course of my studies.”

As an IMP student, she will spend the first four months of medical school at UBC’s Vancouver campus before moving back to the Island as part of the IMP’s first class.

Faculty of Medicine Expansion: The Facts

In March 2002, the provincial government announced its plan to ease B.C.’s doctor shortage by almost doubling the number of medical school students to 224 in 2005.

Curently B.C. has the lowest per capita ratio of places in medical school to population in any Canadian province or territory.

This year, UBC’s Faculty of Medicine launches a system of distributed medical education with UBC students taught at three new facilities: the University of Northern British Columbia’s (UNBC) Northern Health Sciences Centre; University of Victoria’s (UVic) Medical Sciences Building and UBC’s Life Sciences Centre (LSC). The facilities represent a provincial government capital commitment totalling $134 million, which includes $110 million for the UBC portion.

In the 2004-05 academic year, 200 students will be admitted to the Faculty of Medicine, with 152 students admitted to the Vancouver-Fraser Medical Program on UBC campus; 24 students to the Northern Medical Program (NMP) at UNBC and 24 to the Island Medical Program (IMP) at UVic.

Students in the NMP and the IMP will spend the first four months of the MD undergraduate program in Vancouver and the remainder of the first two years in the north or on Vancouver Island. In the third and fourth years of the program, students will have a range of experiences in the north and on Vancouver Island and will also have opportunities through UBC’s network of 96 affiliated teaching hospitals and health facilities throughout B.C.

All three new facilities have IT infrastructure that is linked with BCNet’s high speed broad band network to support the distributed e-learning model.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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