The University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Southern Medical Program at the Okanagan campus in Kelowna.
UBC’s distributed medical program was one of the first of its kind in the world and is now one of the largest medical programs in North America. The program started at UBCO back in 2011, and has seen more than 215 doctors graduate.
Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training Anne Kang noted that Kelowna is one of four places in B.C. where the school is training future doctors — the others being Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George.
“Regional education opportunities are important because we know students are more likely to stay and practice in the communities they study in. This is a remarkable outcome," she said.
Overall, more than 90 per cent of students who complete their undergraduate and postgraduate medical education training at UBC stay in B.C. to practice. Each year, UBC accepts 288 first-year medical students and 362 first-year resident doctors.
UBC's program in Kelowna welcomes 32 new medical students annually, of which up to 10 seats are designated for applicants with rural and remote backgrounds. At any given time, approximately 130 medical students and more than 90 resident doctors are training at hospitals, primary care and health care clinical settings across the Interior Health region.
“Eighteen years ago, UBC embarked on an ambitious plan to remap medical education to better serve the province,” said Dermot Kelleher, dean, faculty of medicine and vice-president of health, UBC.
“Today, the university is a global leader in distributed medical education and together with our partners in the SMP, we’re training world-class doctors that are passionate about building a health-care system that is more equitable, diverse and inclusive for patients and communities.”
In addition to training future doctors, the program at UBCO is a hub for world-leading medical research with a particular focus on the health needs of people living in the Interior. It is home to the new Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, which is accelerating new treatments and preventions for chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and neurologic conditions.
“UBC Okanagan has firmly established itself as a leading medical education and research-focused university serving the needs of the Interior,” said Dr. Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal, UBC Okanagan.
“We’re proud to be home to the SMP and delivering world-class medical education and research that is improving the lives of British Columbians.”