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  • Volunteer Patients

    During a typical session, Volunteer Patients (VPs) spend 1-2 hours in a clinical skills room with four medical students and a physician tutor. VPs must be comfortable being a teaching model for a group of students, who will perform repeated specific physical examinations and ask repeated questions.

    There are two different types of VPs, asymptomatic and symptomatic, and both are crucial to a medical student's education. Asymptomatic patients, those with no diagnosed medical conditions or symptoms, provide students a baseline for learning how to perform physical examinations of the body's different systems (ex. abdominal and neurological).

    Symptomatic patients -- those with medical conditions and their associated symptoms -- allow students to learn how a medical or genetic condition affects the sights, sounds and findings related to body function. Symptomatic volunteers may also be interviewed about their medical history, daily routine, and the impact of their medical conditions on their lives.

    IMP’s faculty and students are bound by the Canadian Medical Association Code of Ethics, and therefore all participant information is kept in the strictest of confidence.

    Volunteer Patients with chronic conditions - what types are needed?

    Psychiatry/Mental Health Issues:

    • Schizophrenia
    • Depression
    • Bi-polar
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Eating disorders


    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Parkinson's
    • Stroke
    • Brain injury
    • Spinal stenosis


    • Cardiac conditions with audible sounds
    • Heart murmurs
    • Cardiovascular diseases


    • Chronic skin conditions
    • Hair loss
    • Skin cancer
    • Psoriasis
    • Fungal infections


    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Pulmonary hypertension
    • Pulmonary embolism
    Gastrointestinal (GI)

    Frequently asked questions

    1) How often would I be scheduled ?

    During the academic year (September to November and January to April), volunteer patients are continually scheduled for upcoming sessions, usually 2-3 weeks in advance. VPs are selected in order to meet session requirements for specific symptomology. Volunteers are scheduled based on their availability, medical history, and upcoming applicable sessions. Some volunteers are scheduled for multiple sessions per month, while other volunteers are only needed once or twice a year. 

    2) What will the physical examinations be like?

    The majority of sessions using VPs involve students practicing non-invasive physical examinations. Examinations may include the following systems: abdominal (GI), coordination and gait, reflexes, shoulder movement, respiratory, etc. The examinations are not painful or intrusive. Volunteers should be prepared to change into a hospital gown so that areas of the body (eg. knees, abdomen, chest) may be examined. Certain examinations, such as cardiac examinations, will require women to remove their bras. Volunteers are encouraged to wear shorts and a sports bra under their medical gowns, for their own comfort.

    3) Will I be a research subject?

    No. The Island Medical Program does not involve our volunteer patients in research activities at this time.

    4) Do volunteer patient sessions involve diagnosis or treatment?

    These sessions serve as a learning tool for students and do not substitute for physician care, advice or treatment. IMP students are in the early stages of their learning and are unable to perform or provide this care.

    5) What about transportation or parking?

    Most of the sessions take place at the Royal Jubilee Hospital with an occasional session at either the Victoria General Hospital or at the Medical Sciences Building at the University of Victoria. There is no allocated parking for volunteers at any of these sites. However, an honorarium is offered to help cover the costs of transportation and parking.

    Previous Volunteers

    See what our previous volunteers have said about the program.

    Next steps?

    If you are interested in becoming a volunteer patient, please use our application form, or contact:

    Karen Basi, Patient Programs Coordinator, Island Medical Program
    250-370-8111 ext: 12386

    A Unique Contribution

    Make a special and valuable contribution to the community. Consider donating your body to science.

    UBC Body Donation Program >