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  • The IMP needs volunteers to help train medical students

    Aug 22, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Calling all volunteers – the Island’s medical students need your help

    The Island Medical Program (IMP), which delivers the UBC MD Undergraduate Program in partnership with UVic, is looking for volunteers to help medical students with clinical skills training.

    Clinical skills are a critical component of a medical student’s education. In these sessions, each one overseen by a licensed physician, medical students not only learn how to perform certain medical procedures – such as a physical exam or checkup – but also how to effectively interact with patients.

    “Volunteers give our students an opportunity to practice their skills with a real person,” said Karen Basi, the IMP’s Patient Programs Coordinator. “But just as important, students also learn how to connect with patients in a sensitive, empathetic, and respectful manner. This is crucial, and we want the community – whom our students are training to serve – to be involved in this process.”

    Right now, the IMP has several volunteer streams. These include Volunteer Patients, on whom students learn how to perform various physical exams; Standardized Patients, actors who portray real patient symptoms and histories; First Patients, who highlight the unique healthcare needs of those with chronic health conditions; and Female and Male Clinical Teaching Associates (FCTAs and MCTAs), who help teach second-year medical students how to perform gynecological and urogenitary exams, respectively.

    The Male Clinical Teaching Associate program was unveiled just last year, in 2016, and saw its first-ever clinical sessions in January 2017. Similar to FCTAs, Male Clinical Teaching Associates assume the role of both instructor and knowledgeable teacher and, with the support of a physician, guide students through an exam of the urogenital system, including the prostate.

    According to Dr. Nathan Hoag, who graduated from the IMP in 2009 and now oversees these sessions, the MCTA program’s first year was a “huge success.”

    “We had an excellent response from the volunteers, who found the sessions both interesting and meaningful. And, by all accounts, the students found the experience to be an incredibly informative one. We’re excited to build upon last year.”

    Ron, part of first cohort of volunteers for the MCTA program, was uneasy at first, but soon found the experience both interesting and meaningful.

    “When I saw the teaching videos, I was nervous,” he said. “But after studying the material and practicing with the students, I felt more at ease. The feedback from the students was encouraging and rewarding: they said how much they enjoyed my teaching style, that my participation had greatly benefited them and their learning.”

    To help promote these important volunteer opportunities – including the new MCTA program – IMP faculty, staff, and students will attend Men’s Health Day, an annual, community-wide event that takes place on Saturday, September 9 at The Tillicum Centre, 9:30am to 3:00pm. There, the IMP team will host a booth where participants, in addition to talking with Dr. Hoag about men’s prostate health, can also learn more about the IMP and its volunteer opportunities.

    Men’s Health Day will also feature booths from other organizations, some of which will offer free testing, health assessments, consultations, and health materials to men of all ages.

    For more information about the IMP’s volunteer opportunities, please contact Karen Basi, the Patient Programs Coordinator, at 250-370-8111 ext. 12386 or karenpri@uvic.ca. Or visit the Volunteer Patient Program website: imp.uvic.ca/community/clinical-teaching-associates/index.php


    In the spirit of Men’s Health Day, we also asked Dr. Nathan Hoag some questions about prostate health, and how men can avoid and better monitor their own health.

    What advice do you have for men regarding prostate health?

    Men should speak to their GP or urologist about their prostate health to determine whether prostate cancer screening is appropriate. If it is, screening is typically done once a year between the ages of 50-75, assuming good health. This may start earlier if there is a family history of prostate cancer.

    What can men do to maintain good prostate health and avoid any issues?

    In general, we advocate for a healthy diet and exercise. We also urge men to talk with their doctor or urologist about any issues they may have, and to do so as soon as possible.

    It seems that men put off having their prostate checked. Why is this?

    Men are sometimes unwilling to seek medical care for these sensitive issues. Some of it has to do with embarrassment; some of it is a reluctance to admit something is wrong. It’s critical that men talk to their doctors to prevent delayed diagnosis of potentially life-threatening problems.

    What are some good resources to learn more about prostate health?

    The Island Prostate Centre (www.islandprostatecentre.com) and the Men’s Health Initiative of BC (www.aboutmen.ca) are both excellent resources.