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    White Coat, Warm Art (WCWA) is the Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) annual Art Exhibit showcasing art created by health sciences students, residents and faculty from across Canada. The purpose of the juried exhibit is to encourage medical students and professionals to explore how artistic endeavours can be used to gain experiential understandings of their work and life through an emphasis on well-being, life balance, compassion, and creativity.

    IMP student, Yi Ariel Liu, was invited to exhibit her painting called "Changes" at the 2013 CCME conference which was held April 20 – 23 in Quebec City.  She offers some insight about what this experience was like...

    Yi Ariel Liu, Class of 2015

    Spring of 2013

    Ariel's paintingArt galleries always fill me with a sense of wonder. At the CCME White Coat Warm Art exhibition, I was amazed by the talents of medical students and faculty across Canada. From the kaleidoscopic colours of abstract paintings to an animation story about a student's interaction with cadavers, to photographs of landscapes and medical encounters, to elegant sculptures and pottery, to mini-films of students' reflections in medicine, and so forth, I have re-discovered my love for the arts.

    My painting is called "Changes" and it was done with graphite, watercolour and ink. The painting depicts a change in landscape from nature to city or vice versa. At the time, I wanted to portray my sense of transitioning from place to place and from childhood to adulthood. At the exhibit, I was able to interact with other artists and gallery visitors to discuss my painting and other artwork, and surmise what the artists were depicting and why. I found the experience refreshing: medicine can inspire the creation of art. I believe that art, in return, can play a role in our appreciation and understanding of medicine. 

    Brian Buchan, IMP Class of 2013

    Summer 2011

    The Rural Family Practice Clerkship is a required, four-week course for all medical undergraduates at UBC, taking place the summer between the second and third years. During this time, students learn the basics of being a family practitioner while at the same time gaining exposure to the rewards of practicing medicine in rural areas.  It is hoped this exposure will encourage many students to return to such underserved areas as practicing physicians.

    Salmon GlacierBrian Buchan completed his rural rotation in Stewart, BC in the summer of 2011.  It was his first time in this small, remote northern community of 400 people.  Despite the community’s small size, Brian’s clinical experiences were varied, and included procedures such as casting, suturing, fracture and dislocation management and arranging for transport referrals and urgent transports to larger centres.  He saw patients in family practice offices as well as during some evening on-call emergency work.  Brian worked with 4 different family physicians while in Stewart and also spent time working with and observing other health-care professionals, including nursing staff and lab technicians.

    Students in rural rotations, particularly in very small communities, are given a good deal of responsibility, putting their clinical and diagnostic skills to the test.  Brian worked on several challenging cases while in Stewart.  For example, he followed a patient from an initial visit through to a provisional diagnosis of a progressive, degenerative arthritic spinal cord disease; he shared a new diagnosis of diabetes with a patient and helped them navigate lifestyle and employment-related issues; he was regularly involved in the complex care of several elderly patients (ie. late 80s and early 90s); and he assisted in managing numerous work-related injuries among mining camp workers, including lacerations, dislocations and fractures.

    Of course, Brian also had a few spare moments to take in some of the sights in and around Stewart, and experience “life” in this small community.  Some of the highlights included a visit to the Salmon Glacier; viewing grizzlies and cubs at Fish Creek during the annual salmon run; sampling the 4-5 restaurant options in town, including a gourmet mobile burger-and-filet mignon food truck and bike riding.
    Brian had a very positive experience in Stewart this past summer, as indicated in his own words:  “I had an excellent experience in Stewart, BC and felt welcomed, comfortable and challenged throughout the rotation. The docs and staff enjoy having students and were happy to teach. I would recommend this rotation to anyone interested in rural, remote medicine in a beautiful part of northern BC.” 

    Christopher Wallis, Class of 2011

    Summer of 2009

    When I first found out that my rural placement was in Ladysmith, I was a little disappointed thinking that I would miss out on opportunities by being so close to larger centres. In fact, it was just the opposite: I had a wonderful experience that was enriched by opportunities this presented.


    The Interprofessional Rural Program of BC (IRPbc) was running in Ladysmith at the same time I was there so I had the chance to work with a nursing student, a nurse practitioner student and an x-ray tech student. This further diversified what was already a wonderful, multidisciplinary clinic. As mentioned before, I had the chance to shadow a number of specialists in Duncan during this month. While the family practice placement was a wonderful learning experience, these opportunities further diversified my learning.

    In addition, I made wonderful personal connections that will survive long past the conclusion of the rotation - for instance, I stayed with one of the administrators of the clinic for my month in Ladysmith and since that time, I've gone to Tofino with her family.

    Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the wonderful preceptors I worked with in Ladysmith: Dr Brockley, Dr Chapman, Dr Kilvert and Dr Potts all taught me a tremendous amount about both the science and art of medicine.

    Even as someone not inclined to pursue family medicine as a career, I must say that my rural family practice rotation was a wonderful and educational experience.

    Mark Lipsett, Class of 2010

    Summer of 2008

    It all started with a brisk 27 hour flight package, taking me from Victoria, to Vancouver, then Calgary, with a skip over to Yellowknife (where a rendezvous with my rural classmate ensued), to Norman Wells and then a much anticipated gliding entry along side the Mackenzie to our heralded destination of Inuvik.

    We were delightfully welcomed in the airport by a polar bear. We were then whisked away for a quick tour of Inuvik, driving by our soon to be new home, the Inuvik Regional Hospital, witnessing the ice flows marching down the Mackenzie, and relishing the first June snow fall.

    Our welcome was absolutely amazing. Everyone was so supportive, from the surgeons, anesthetists, OR staff, to the Emergency department, hospital personnel and best of all, the cafeteria staff. We quickly got hooked up with the essentials including our pagers, room keys, and the greatly welcomed free cafeteria food card. Our practical learning started from the first day. Placing IV lines, intubating patients, assisting with surgery, performing and interpreting x-rays, and the follow-up casting.

    The amount of hands-on learning was just astounding. From the moderately benign diagnosis of otitis media to the complex AVM-induced seizures and idiopathic Thrombocytopenia, the experience was unforgettable. And as if this wasn’t enough, we had the opportunity to participate in multi-day rural fly-outs. I was lucky enough to spend two days in Tuktoyaktuk, and even luckier when I got a wink and a pat on the bum from a 97-year-old elder who was apparently quite pleased with my first ever arthrocentesis.

    It would be sacrilegious to be in the Great White North without taking the opportunity to experience the beauties it had to offer. We were so fortunate to swim amongst the ice flows in the Arctic Ocean, drive five hours south along the famous Dempster Highway just to reach the Arctic Circle, as well as kayaking down the Mackenzie with a hazy hand-drawn map of where we were supposed to go. Furthermore, we partook in the Summer Solstice Midnight Sun Run. A half-marathon where you start with lathering on sun-screen (sun-screen for a midnight run?! Yes, and thankfully so, 22°C and pure sunshine at midnight) before hitting the highway for the mildly bizarre sunlit midnight run, culminating in an ecstatic sprint to cross the finish-line in pace with Dr. Fast.

    My stay in Inuvik ended with one last ER shift in which the emergency doctor and the ER nurse and I were put to the test. Two separate motor vehicle accidents came through, with one requiring intubation and hand-ventilation while full body x-ray imaging was performed (I think I got my fair share of x-rays that night); a full code burn victim; a drug overdose; multiple drunken lacerations; a neonatal resuscitation, and various other walking wounded. An amazing way to end a month of perpetual learning.

    My rural medicine experience came to a close with flying back home to Victoria where I was struck by a strange and somewhat eerie sensation - fully encompassing darkness, a view that I had not experience for over 30 days in the land of continuous sunshine.

    Inuvik, an absolutely amazing experience!

    Jeffrey Ricketson, Class of 2009

    Summer of 2007

    This past June, as part of my second year Family Practice course, I had the pleasure of traveling to Creston, BC, in order to gain medical experience in a rural setting. Like most other students at the end of second year medical school, I was eager to leave the classroom and begin my clinical training.

    The town of Creston has a population of approximately five thousand people and is served by a single hospital. During my placement, I stayed in an apartment directly above the clinic where my preceptor worked, only a sixty second sprint from the hospital. This was convenient for those after hour ER cases and hospital procedures. Although the course assigned me to a single preceptor, it became evident very early that every physician in town was interested in teaching me. I would often spend a morning with one preceptor and an afternoon with another. Each physician brought their own subspecialties and unique perspectives on rural medicine. This ensured that my experiences were diverse both in terms of patient exposure and clinical teaching.


    Creston was an excellent place for exposure to procedures and interesting medical cases. Being one of two students in the town during the only month of the year when there is no resident, there were plenty of opportunities for hands-on experience. I was able to assist in five surgeries, including a Cesarean section, and had ample opportunity to practise injections, suturing, and excisions. I took arterial blood gases, practised starting IV’s, and performed conscious sedations for colonoscopies. One afternoon found me in the back of an ambulance riding to Creston with a woman in premature labour, while another afternoon I shadowed a travelling pediatrician who was seeing patients in Creston. I also spent an afternoon in the mental health clinic, and many hours in the emergency room.

    The majority of my time was spent with several different physicians in their family practice offices. Here I experienced glimpses of the patient-physician relationships which define rural family practice medicine. I learned about the respect and empathy needed to develop that relationship and trust over time. Over years of practising medicine in Creston, the physicians have built up an intricate knowledge of the familial, social, and economic factors that affect the care of the patient.

    Outside of the clinic, I enjoyed playing softball on a team of hospital staff, I visited a preceptor’s cabin on Kootenay Lake, and went flying through the valley in a tiny Cessna plane. I spent countless meals at my preceptor’s house, and enjoyed the people of Creston’s generous hospitality. Overall, Creston was my best medical school experience to date. Thank-you to all those in Creston who contributed to this experience and took an interest in my education.

    Nathan Hoag, IMP Class of 2009

    Summer 2007

    I did my rural family practice rotation at the Ladysmith Family Practice office based out of Ladysmith District Hospital. It was a great learning environment and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. In addition to seeing patients as part of the family practice clinic, I was able to spend a few evenings honing my skills while working in their 4 bed emergency room. I also was fortunate enough to travel to Duncan to shadow specialists and spend an afternoon in the casting clinic. The physicians in Ladysmith were excellent, and I was introduced to a wide variety of clinical situations. It all made for an experience that was well worth it, and one that I won't soon forget.

    Anna Isbister, IMP Class of 2009

    January 2007

    Four members of the IMP, Sara , Jessie and Anna (Class of 2009) and Neelam (Class of 2010) travelled to Banff, to attend the Alberta College of Family Physicians 52nd Annual Scientific Assembly. The MUS and UBC Family Medicine Interest Group sponsored our trip to this amazing conference. We were inspired by family physicians and specialists, reviewed the basic medical knowledge that we had already forgotten from first year and learned about cutting edge dermatology, addictions medicine, obstetrics, urology, and surgery as they apply to family practice.


    We started the conference with an introduction to the powers of lasers. Cellulite anyone? Unsightly acne scars? Distressing hirsutism? Radiofrequency (RF), Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and Pixelated lasers promise to fix all these problems. For a low start-up cost of $100,000, you too can own one of these beauties, and get to work making your patients look fabulous.

    From there, we moved to a talk by Dr. John Sader, a Montreal family physician who specializes in the treatment of addiction and eating disorders. One of the most inspiring speakers at the conference, he shared his perspective on the many factors that contribute to addiction, and offered many suggestions on how family physicians can contribute to the healing process.

    This is the first year that the Gardasil HPV vaccine is available on the Canadian market. We heard a comprehensive introduction to the benefits of this vaccine, and learned about the obstacles that may prevent its acceptance in the Canadian market. It seems that this vaccine has great potential to advance women’s health. Ladies, look into it! Speaking of women’s health, we are now IMP experts on the management of PMS, and unique hormonal contraceptives for the modern Canadian girl. What great preparation for the upcoming reproduction block.

    Dr. Jay Lee, a Calgarian urologist and one of the country’s foremost sex medicine experts, taught us about managing testosterone deficiency, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction in the family practice office. Boy did we learn some interesting facts!

    Other memorable sessions involved a casting workshop, managing hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), how to get the most out of office-teaching, sports medicine, recognizing urticaria, and helping patients with behaviour change. Sara’s eye infection was cured after going to the common eye emergencies workshop. A workshop on Alberta's provincial stroke plan showed how the province is developing a strategic plan to reach citizens across the province and have CT scanners and stroke centres strategically placed to reach rural residents. It was good to get exposure to the health care system of a different province. Alberta faces many of the same challenges that we do (not enough physicians, limited funding, isolated rural populations), and it’s exciting to see how they are tackling these problems.

    (Excerpted from Island Medical Students IMPrints newsletter and posted on “Student Perpsectives” with the kind permission of the author and the editors, Maia Love and Ann Marie Colwill)

    Well, obviously, the way of life differs with the individual. However, to give you a window into what the new Island Medical Program student life is like, the following are some excerpts from my experience.

    First, there’s school. Classes with 23 other students, and a big screen lecturer, are great. The lecture is clear, and the camaraderie between colleagues almost instant. There are also endless creative opportunities to enjoy the communication with two other major cities in BC via the videoconferencing. For example, a lecturer may ask for an answer to a question based on the lecture material, and they may direct this question to the students at Prince George. When the delay is answering is prolonged, a student in Victoria will invariably suggest which PG student to ask, and then the response time is sharply decreased, and the bond between the PG and IMP student is deepened as well. Another example is the clever use of question time to display messsages to each other, such as having written a birthday greeting on a VFMP student’s white T-shirt, so that when the VFMP student asks a question, a PG student can understand that their age has substantially increased. But, jokes aside, it really is a fantastic opportunity to communicate with each other and the lecturers, and to maintain cross-site cohesion while gaining more diverse experience of BC and its medical challenges and opportunities.

    Student Group

    Still on the topic of school, I have to mention how caring, supportive, and organized the IMP staff are. I’m left speechless by their generosity of time and interest in interconnecting us with the Victoria community.

    Secondly, or some students would argue foremost, there are the outdoors and athletics opportunities. Not least of which taking social responsibility as part of the MSSR (Medical Students for Social Responsibility) by biking the 20 minutes to school, up a hill significantly shallower and shorter than the Alma to UBC hill. Also, this distance is most often biked in sunny, breezy weather, while breathing clear, fresh air. The hospital where we learn our clinical skills is the Royal Jubilee, and it is a mere 5-10 minutes bike ride from class. The minutes lost in transit time are made up for in socializing, organizing surfing trips, etcetera. Surfing. With Sombreo and Jordan river around the corner, a student can’t complain about extracurricular options. Not to mention Tofino, albeit five hours drive away. There is also a superb sports rental store where boards and suits are a decent rental price. And zero ferry waits. Climbing, squash, yoga, tennis, dancing, horseback riding (dressage), singing, playing music (flute, piano, guitar), drawing classes, running, and swimming are also enjoyed by many of the IMP students. One of the swimming centres has a hot tub, sauna, and steam room, and 25-foot length swim open from 6 am to 1 am, so study breaks can be made luxurious at almost any time of night or day. Running along Dallas Road along the bluffs of Victoria, looking across the strait to the snow-capped Olympic mountains, and taking a detour through Beacon Hill Park, is also not to be forgotten as one of my favorite study breaks.

    My third point, and I could tell of many other fabulous high points in the IMP student’s life, is about the doctors in Victoria. They are enthusiatic to work with the students, both within the IMP curriculum, and outside of it in shadowing experiences. The one-on-one experiences in the Emergency Department, Radiology Department, Inner City Medicine, Gastroenterology and Surgery thus far have been truly enriching. As one of the students involved in a self-directed project, I am continually enjoying my discussion and learning with the doctors, nurses, and counsellors in the Inner City medicine services. It is inspiring and hope-instilling to talk with the counsellors about the tools they use to help people coping with addictions recovery and life on the street. Four of the IMP students, including myself, participated in the Cool Aid Society’s homelessness count, and most of the students have been involved with community services via an interviewing or volunteering initiative.

    Thus, overall, between classes, outdoors activities, and community-involvement, the experience of an IMP student is very enriching, fulfilling, and exciting especially at this time, when the IMP is literally and metaphorically a “graft” of UBC Medicine taking root in fresh ground.

    Bjorn Vegsund, IMP Class of 2008

    Spring 2006

    Bjorn Vegsund was part of the inaugural IMP Class.  Here he shares some of his first impressions of moving into the southern Vancouver Island hospitals two half days a week for clinical skills and family practice studies.

    How did you feel being on the frontlines for the first time?

    All of us have had experience in a clinical setting, but this was the first time that I was the first person that a patient talked to once they were admitted to the ER. It was exciting, and definitely nerve-wracking, trying to remember what questions to ask, what physical findings to look for, what tests might be needed, and what the differential diagnosis was for each patient. We were only supposed to stay for 2 hours, but it was so interesting and exciting that I stayed for 6 hours. This kind of experience is far better than all of the hours we spend sitting and studying.

    Did it match your expectations?

    Yes and no. Sometimes there is some miscommunication or misunderstanding as to what our preceptors are supposed to let us do. I’ve experienced the whole range from just being able to watch (no hands or comments), to being left to do the entire preliminary exam and patient presentation to the attending ER doctors. What was it like in the Cowichan District ER - like an episode of the TV show?

    Not at all like ER (not that I watch it). There were no doctors hitting on each other and trying to pick up nurses or patients or anything like that. It can be calm and quiet with lots of time for casual conversation with the doctors and specialists, or it can be intensely busy with trauma patients and resuscitations (so I hear, I’ve yet to actually see a resuscitation in this hospital)

    What kind of things are you doing there?

    We’re doing lots of history taking, physical exams, trying to develop differential diagnoses, deciding what tests and imaging might be appropriate for a given patient, looking at X-rays and CTs ,and in some cases, we’re actually calling specialists and presenting patients to them for further treatment, or admitting patients under the care of other doctors.

    Did you feel well prepared by the training you've had?

    Yes, although it is very tough to recall all the information we need to know off the top of my head right now, its surprising what comes out of the pile of facts (both random and systematically laid away) stored in my head. I wish I wasn’t using up so much memory space by remembering the lyrics to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice baby” one-hit wondermaker.

    Another thing, we have tons of training in the basic science aspects and clinical aspects of medicine, but we haven’t yet encountered the practical aspects of practice in any way yet. Knowing that you need to order an X-ray is totally different from knowing how to actually order one (what form? who do you give it to?). Same for knowing how to refer a patient on to an orthopedic surgeon; you know they’re out there and know what they do, but we have no training on how to actually go about doing it. These are the kinds of hands-on experiences that we’re getting for the first time in the ER here.

    What's your confidence level like now after a couple of sessions?

    I think I’m a lot more comfortable in there now than I was the first time; I at least have an idea of how to approach the patients and how to do some of the more basic procedures and jobs we need to do in the ER. Anything else you'd like to add?

    The ER experience I had at CRH was different from the ones I’ve had at the RJH and at VGH in Vancouver in that it was a lot smaller, and there seemed to be more variety in terms of what patients are presenting with. Also, there are only 2 ER docs on duty at a time, and they have to deal with what seems (in my early-on in my training perspective) to be a much broader range of problems; acute resuscitations, complicated poly-pharymacy geriatric patients, pediatric respiratory emergencies, skin rashes, cuts, bruises, scrapes, you name it. In some of the bigger hospitals, there is at least some degree of focus to the ERs, with RJH taking the cardiac patients, and VGH taking the pediatric, trauma and obstetrical patients. The idea of working in an ER in a smaller centre seems like a good idea to me at the moment.

    Over the next few weeks, several UBC MD undergraduate students will be featured across the program. Students were asked to answer the following rapid-fire questions in only a few sentences in their own words.


    Name: Darcy Good       
    Year: 2018        
    Hometown: Nanaimo, BC
    Program: IMP    



    What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in medicine?
    After a year of many sudden deaths in my family, my stepfather suffered a heart attack while at the hospital. Being surrounded by doctors at that time was extremely fortunate. I can’t imagine the impact on my family if we had to endure another huge loss. Seeing the impact that saving one life can have on so many individuals inspired me and gave me a strong determination to make the same difference in other peoples’ lives.
    What excites you the most about your site location?
    Having traveled across parts of Canada, Europe, and South America, I’ve never found a place I’d rather call home than Vancouver Island!

    Where do you see yourself in five years?
    UBC has done a pretty good job of sparking my interest in Family Medicine, so perhaps in one of their residency programs!

    Scrubs or Suit?

    Stay in or Go Out?
    Stay in

    Mac or PC?

    Cook or Take Out?
    Take out


    Name: Barbara Lelj Garolla Di Bard         
    Year: 2018        
    Hometown: Naples, Italy
    Program: IMP    




    What sparked your interest in pursuing a career in medicine?
    I have a Ph.D. in biochemistry and I was involved in cancer research at the Vancouver Prostate Centre for a number of years. Although I was (and still am part-time!) working on highly translational research I missed the contact with patients. So despite being older than the average medical student, I realized that the only way to be able to work with patient was to go back to school. Until I started working in and around hospitals I didn’t know much about medicine as nobody in my family is a physician.

    What excites you the most about your site location?
    Definitely the small group learning. I think Victoria is the best site to be at! I have the feeling that we will get a lot of clinical exposure and everyone seems very excited to have us here on the island. Moreover, I am married and I have two young kids so we decided that Victoria was a nice place for our kids to grow up. It seems a bit less hectic and more community based than Vancouver. I also look forward to discovering all the hidden gems on the island.

    Where do you see yourself in five years?
    I’m interested in primary care and I would love to remain in Victoria, so hopefully I will still be here doing a residency in ?????

    Scrubs or Suit?

    Stay in or Go Out?
    Stay in (hopefully with a bunch of friend, chatting around a table full of home cooked food… you can take the girl out of Italy but not Italy out of the girl!)

    Mac or PC?

    Cook or Take Out?
    Cook. Definitively. See above.

    See the VFMP students featured here and NMP students featured here.

    Students from across the UBC MD program were asked to answer a few questions before the beginning of the school year. Here is Patrick's answers.


    Name            Patrick McKernan
    Hometown    Victoria
    Program       IMP
    Year              1


    What excites you the most about the 2015/16 school year?
    What excites me most about medical school the transition of it being a hope to a reality. As many first year students can attest to, the admissions process can feel like a very long road with no certainty of things working out in the end. I am so happy to have this opportunity to be able to complete my training in my favourite place in the world- Vancouver Island. I also have heard so many positive reports about the cooperation and collegiality within the student body, so I also look forward to having new friendships and communities.

    What do you expect will be the most challenging part of this year?
    My wife and I had our first child this year and I have never had to balance school commitments with kids. I like to think I will be one of those parents that develops ultra efficiency with their time, but I am human, with procrastination tendencies and vices , and will have to be pretty organized and disciplined.

    What do you hope to achieve academically this year?
    My goal is to get a solid understanding of the fundamentals and not sweat the minutia too much. I've received lots of good advice from friends who have gone through medical school before me, and a consistent message is that you will never be able to absorb all the information- so don't stray too far from the the learning objectives.
    How will you spend your down time? What is your favourite thing to do in your site region?
    Wrestling my way into 6 mm of neoprene and surfing southern Vancouver Island. Having spent the last 6 years in Vancouver, I am ecstatic to resume day trips to my favourite surf spots. I also love bike rides, beach days, throwing frisbees and having BBQs. Realistically, I will also spend a lot of time changing diapers, going to the park, wiping food off dirty mugs, and watching my son grow.