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    News and views from the Island Medical Program

    Meet 2017 IMP Graduate Melissa Dekker

    May 23, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Hometown: Courtenay, BC

    What attracted you to your field?
    I was drawn to medicine because it marries my passion for human sciences and pathophysiology with my love of problem solving, and it offers the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives.

    mdIn 10 years, what UBC moment will you still be talking about?
    I will never forget the day I received my letter of acceptance into the UBC Faculty of Medicine. It was such an incredibly exciting moment and it was the beginning of some of the most challenging and rewarding years of my life.

    What’s next for you?
    I am beyond thrilled to be returning home to the Comox Valley to complete my residency in family medicine.

    As you look ahead, what (or who) inspires you?
    My biggest inspiration and source of strength is my best friend and sister-in-law Jenn. She was the most remarkable human being I have ever known and although she is not here to celebrate this milestone in my life, her lessons of love and courage are with me always.

    Name one thing on your bucket list.
    Cycle the Tour De France race course.

    Meet 2017 IMP Graduate Shirley Rudecki

    May 24, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Hometown: Prince George, BC

    What attracted you to your field?
    A career in family medicine has always been on my radar. As with most medical students, however, I entered my clinical years eager to fully experience and consider each of the medical and surgical disciplines. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed each of these different areas and how difficult it would be to select just one. This confirmed my previous thoughts on pursuing a career in family medicine. It will satisfy my broad range of medical interests, while also giving me the flexibility to develop a practice focus. More importantly, I am excited about taking on a role that emphasizes preventative health. There is nothing more rewarding then helping my future patients live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

    srIn 10 years, what UBC moment will you still be talking about?
    That’s a hard question to answer when I feel that I’ve walked away with many memorable UBC moments! However, one that stands out would be the time that my IMP cohort flocked to Victoria for an orientation weekend. We were welcomed with open arms by the amazing second year students. They had planned an exciting weekend for us that featured a Victoria-wide scavenger hunt, BBQ, and animal themed party – just to name a few. That weekend got us all a little bit more excited about what was to come and was also the start of many amazing friendships.

    What’s next for you?
    Next comes a family medicine residency in Chilliwack, BC! I could not be more excited for this next part of the journey. I look forward to continue learning from my patients as I begin to shape what my future practice will look like as a family doctor. At this time, I see myself working in a small- to medium-sized community, providing comprehensive primary care with an interest in obstetrics and women’s health.

    As you look ahead, who inspires you?
    My wonderful parents have always been and continue to be my greatest inspiration. Their approach to work-life balance has always been admirable. While exceling in their own careers, they also prioritized family commitments and wellbeing. I will continue to use their success and happiness as a model for my future professional and personal life.

    Name one thing on your bucket list.
    After dedicating many years to school, I look forward to spending some of my time traveling and exploring the world. A hot ticket item on my bucket list includes pursuing an authentic safari experience in Africa!

    Meet 2017 IMP Graduate Nathan Stefani

    May 22, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Hometown: Nanaimo, BC

    What attracted you to your field?
    Emergency departments represent the one place in our society where any person can come at any time of day or night and find the help they need – all ages, cultural backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, personal expectations, and pathologies come through those doors. I am attracted to the inherent unpredictability, the patient diversity, and the diagnostic challenges that arise on every shift in emergency medicine.

    NSWhat UBC moment will you still be talking about?
    A defining moment for me was when I started a young man on suboxone therapy during my addictions elective at St. Paul’s Hospital. He was addicted to heroin, and had watched many of his friends die from opioid overdose. He was terrified of the same thing happening to him, but couldn’t stop using heroin. Suboxone is a drug that binds to the brain’s opioid receptors in such a way that cravings are reduced, protecting the person from overdosing. This patient did very well on suboxone and cried with gratitude when he left the hospital because he didn’t feel chained to his addiction anymore. It felt like we had saved a life and that interaction sparked a passion in me for addictions medicine that I hope to further pursue during my career in emergency medicine.

    What’s next for you?
    I am starting an emergency medicine residency in Victoria, BC, on July 1st. Before then, you’ll find me on a beach in southern California.

    As you look ahead, who inspires you?
    I am inspired by the doctors I know who are many years into their practice but still find meaning and pleasure in what they do. They are excellent clinicians and dedicated patient advocates but not at the expense of their families or their sanity. I want to be like them someday.

    Name one thing on your bucket list
    To surf inside a barreling wave.

    Meet 2017 IMP Graduate Brett Baumann

    May 25, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Hometown: Qualicum Beach, BC

    What attracted you to your field?

    During my undergrad and later during my MBA I found myself interested in public health and governmental policy but wanted to find more of a tangible connection with the people I was working to help. Medicine provides that and allows me to spend my day learning from and helping patients in my community.

    bbIn 10 years, what UBC moment will you still be talking about?
    I’ll remember my time at the UBC Island Medical Program for being filled with amazing medical experiences and for giving me the opportunity to make lifelong professional and personal connections. The people here in Victoria made it a truly unique learning environment.

    What’s next for you?
    I’m excited to be staying in Victoria to start my residency in Internal Medicine!

    As you look ahead, who inspires you?
    Being in medicine allows for a lot of opportunity to draw inspiration from people in our daily lives. We get to meet interesting and perseverant patients and work alongside passionate people who share a common goal. It’s easy to go to work when that’s the environment waiting for you everyday.

    Name one thing on your bucket list.
    Visiting the Galapagos Islands is something I’ve wanted to do since my years in undergrad. I’ll be hoping to cross it off during residency.

    IMP and DMSC celebrate staff and faculty

    Feb 7, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    On December 15, 2016, the Island Medical Program and the Division of Medical Sciences held their seasonal celebration. This is a special event, recognizing the incredible work that IMP and DMSC staff have done over the past year. It was also the opportunity to recognize those who've been with the IMP and DMSC for five or ten years.

    Ten Year Milestone

    Dr. Laura Arbour, Professor in the Department of Medical Genetics; Affiliate Professor in the DMSC

    Kim Brodie, Curriculum Administrator VGH

    "I enjoyed celebrating the season with my colleagues and have enjoyed the successes and challenges of the past 10 years. Looking forward to many more."

    Izaak Housden, UBC Faculty of Medicine V/C Design Liaison

    "I have a diverse background and have worked for small mom and pop shops to big pharma. I can honestly say that my time thus far at UVic has been the most enjoyable of all employers. In my role I have found there is opportunity, support, challenge, growth, recognition, and a lot of friendship. My colleagues at IMP and UBC have created an environment that I enjoy coming to each day and for that I am very grateful. My first 10 years has flown by and I’m looking forward to my next 10."

    Jeff Knight, Simulation Technology Support Analyst

    "It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years already! Over the past ten years, I have witnessed a lot of change including: capital renewals (multiple times in some of the rooms), infrastructure changes, new sites, procedural changes, etc. The tasks I perform today are 90% different than the role I was hired into. When I look back on the past ten years, however, these changes are not what stand out the most. What does stand out is how many of the people I met a decade ago are still here today. These relationships that were formed while working to improve healthcare delivery in our communities are what makes this job as fun and enjoyable as it is. I’m am looking forward to see where the next 10 years bring us!"

    Stephanie Goult, Site Coordinator, IMG, Academic and Faculty Support, Family Practice

    "I really enjoyed the recognition event. It was nice to be with people who I’ve worked with for a long time but don’t get to see very often."

    Carlea Remodo, Site Coordinator, Idigenous Family Practice Site

    "I can’t believe that it has been 10 years already since I began working with UBC Postgraduate Education. I began working with the UBC Royal College Program in 2006 and then joined the UBC Indigenous Family Practice Residency Site in 2009. The highlight for me are my residents (and alumni); they constantly inspire me with their selflessness and genuine passion for the communities and patients that they serve. I also feel blessed to have received teachings from Elders, to have been welcomed into Indigenous communities during our Academic Days and to work with such dedicated preceptors. It has been an honour to be part of a program that considers cultural traditions and teachings, resident resilience and community engagement while also producing knowledgeable, well-rounded medical experts."

    Erin Gogol, DMSC Secretary

    IMP has been a great place to work -- it's more like a family than a workplace. I think that is how I have ended up being here for 10 years! Plus we laugh a lot, which I love.


    Five Year Milestone

    Katie Gerritsen, Assistant to the Regional Associate Dean

    I’m deeply grateful for all of the love and support I’ve had since joining IMP. It’s a special thing to know that no matter how the work day goes, there is guaranteed to always be some laughter and lots of smiles. To be part of a team of hard-working people, great mentors and all-around amazing humans is a gift, and it’s one I appreciate daily. Having worked on campus for 14 years, my time at IMP has by far been the most rewarding!

    Eleanor Good, Program Administrator Years 1 & 2 RJH

    "It was so wonderful for everyone to be recognized for their time spent at IMP! Personally, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my 5 years here, and I’ve felt supported and encouraged every step of the way! I look forward to the coming years and continuing to recognize all the other wonderful staff that are part of the program."

    Luisa Halsall, Program Assistant VGH

    "I just wanted to say that it was an honour to be recognized this way at the years of service event and had a fabulous time mingling with staff. Always a pleasure!"

    Leigh Anne Swayne, Assistant Professor DMSC

    "It’s hard to believe how quickly the time has passed since I started at the IMP/DMS! I’ve loved being a part of the IMP family and associated research group in the DMS over the past 6 years (since January 2011). I appreciated Brian’s remarks as he has been a really important and supportive mentor for me over the years. The genuine feelings of appreciation and community were palpable at the event, as has been true in years past as well. It’s reflective of why we have a strong history of success as a distributed program – our cohesiveness, our ability to work together and appreciate and capitalize one another’s strengths is why we have always been successful. I hope we continue to work as a team and continue on this same trajectory for many years to come!"

    Meet the Class of 2020: Sarah Gibbs

    Feb 8, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Name: Sarah Gibbs

    Hometown: Victoria, BC

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    I (like most people I am sure), wanted to go into med for a variety or reasons. I like helping people, I love anatomy and physiology, and I really enjoy the human connection that physicians can have with their patients. Most jobs don’t allow people to hear about others' vulnerable issues and then support them and try to work through their issues. Medicine seems to be a career in which you are dealing with the “human” aspects of people and I wanted to be able to help people on this fundamental level.

    sgYou recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    It went well! I knew that med was going to be challenging (and indeed it was), but it is also exciting to study what you have always wanted to study. Also the material you are learning will actually help you in your future career and its practical!

     What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    Be prepared! Cramming in med isn’t the same as in undergrad (some might say it isn’t even possible). The volume of material in med is just colossal so studying every week, through out the semester is definitely helpful!

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    Getting to settle into the medical community here! Being in Vancouver for only 4 months, for many of us it felt like there wasn’t much point in reaching out to lots of physicians and residents (although shadowing some really unique specialists is amazing and definitely recommended!) because you were going to leave so soon. Here in Victoria we can now start to reach out more and get to know people in the medical community here which, fingers crossed, will help us figure out what we want to do in the future and help with CaRMS!

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    A few things! I love to exercise (be it in the gym watching House or running around our beautiful West Coast), hang out with friends, and cook (which my friends are quite happy about)!

    Meet the Class of 2020: Vincent Soh

    Feb 7, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Name: Vincent Soh

    Hometown: Seoul, Korea

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    It makes me happy when people are happy. And I think that health and happiness comes hand in hand. The role of a doctor as healer, as someone who people entrust their health to, is what attracted me to medicine.

    vsYou recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    A second-year once told me that medical school is “difficult but fun.” I know exactly what he means now. It’s tiring… But I’ve never had so much fun going to school.

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    I am certainly not in the place to be giving advice but if I had to, it’d be to never forget what a privilege it is to be studying medicine. It’s easy to get caught up in the busy schedule but always remind yourself of what brought you to medicine!

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    The outdoor activities! Our class is filled with intense athletes, hikers, bikers, runners, etc. As someone who grew up in big cities, I never really had the opportunity to go on such long hikes, camping trips and do other cool outdoorsy things. I’m super excited to discover what the island has to offer and I look forward to all the fun with the classmates. 

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    Movies… I like to watch at least one a week either at home or in the theatres. It’s a good way to relax and forget about any stress I might have. Plus I enjoy sports of any sort!

    Meet the Class of 2020: Amy Kim

    Feb 6, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Name: Amy Kim

    Hometown: Hope, BC

    akWhat attracted you to study medicine?

    Where do I begin! So many aspects of medicine attracted me to the field. To name one, I like being a useful part of society. Arguably, all professions contribute to our current society, but I like to think of medicine as the backbone of it all. This may be a silly way to think of it, but if a group of people were to be stranded on an island, being someone with medical knowledge would greatly benefit everybody, and I would like to be that someone.

    You recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    It was a rollercoaster ride. The saying of “learning in medical school is like drinking from a fire hydrant” is very much accurate. I did manage to find a good balance between the academics, social life, and self-care though so I think it went great overall!

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    Don’t forget to take care of yourself! As I’ve been told many times, medical school is a marathon, not a sprint. Also, new med friends are awesome, but don’t forget about your friends from before medical school. They are the ones who were there for you through not only the highs, but also the lows.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    I’m excited about the smaller class size, not having to fight through a crowd to look at a prosection in the gross anatomy lab, and the opportunity to really get to know the fellow IMP classmates as well as staff/faculty!

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    I like to get outside and explore the many great things that nature has to offer. In the summer you can find me hiking or camping; in the winter, I like to snowboard! You can find me on my bike, Sven, year-round as it is my main mode of transportation within the city. I’ve painted a very outdoorsy picture of myself for whoever is reading, but I will admit that I do find myself lounging at home with a cup of tea and a movie quite often as well.

    Meet the Class of 2020: Nick Slater

    Feb 2, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Name: Nicholas Slater

    Hometown: Victoria, B.C.

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    Studying and practicing medicine is such a privilege. To be invited into some of the most intimate and sometimes critical moments of someone’s life and have the opportunity to make a difference is incredibly rewarding. Medicine changes your perspective on life and, by caring for others enduring hardship, reminds us of what we take for granted every day. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing.

    nsYou recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    First semester resulted in a dramatic increase in my coffee intake - medical school certainly lives up to its reputation. It was also the most fun I’ve had in school to date. It is so exciting to learn medicine in lecture and then apply that knowledge in a clinical setting.

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    Everyone who achieves admissions to medical school is smart, that means that you are smart, so don’t forget it! I encourage you to work diligently but don't forget to take time for self-care. Most importantly, this is an incredible journey so enjoy yourself because you deserve it.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    I grew up in Victoria so I am excited to come back to the island and study medicine close to my friends and family. I also feel so fortunate to be joining such a small group of amazing people.

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    I am a bit of an amateur foodie and Victoria is an excellent city to cultivate this hobby, for better or worse. Also, I will almost always take a study break to watch the Toronto Raptors; I rarely miss a game.

    Meet the Class of 2020: Lisa Jeffery

    Feb 1, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Name:  Lisa Jeffery    

    Hometown: Duncan, BC

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    I think it was more of a perfect storm of precipitating events than one single thing.  My mom is an incredibly compassionate RN so I always had a lot of positive exposure to medicine.  My volunteer experiences in care homes, the loss of a dear friend to cancer and my curiosity of human physiology all kept pointing me in one direction.

    ljYou recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    It had its ups and downs but was ultimately an incredible experience.

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    A good friend gave me some wonderful advice: whenever you get overwhelmed by med school remember what an honour and privilege it is to be here. Also, the admissions process works: if you’re here you belong here, trust that.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    Being able to know EVERYONE in my class and work with them all. Being home.    

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    I love climbing, running and netflixing (no, it’s not a verb but it should be).  But nothing beats a day on the construction site to relieve some stress!

    Meet the Class of 2020: Dalton Anderson

    Jan 30, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Dalton Anderson



    daWhat attracted you to study medicine?

    I am attracted to medicine as a profession to truly help people as well as to contribute to the academic community. After many pleasant interactions with physicians in the past, I have realized how greatly a physician can truly impact a person’s health in more ways than one.

    You recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    It was truly a journey that has changed who I am. I was mentally stretched on many occasions, but I finished strong and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be in this program. There are still many ways I need to develop and become a better learner and I look forward to facing the firehose of knowledge that will be thrown my way this semester.

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    My advice would be to go out and do amazing things. Last semester, there were many times that I would make an excuse not to do something, or I would avoid applying to something because I felt overwhelmed by school. I have realized, if you put in a decent effort, school will be just fine. This is a time filled with many opportunities and I don’t want to miss out on something valuable just because I had to study material that probably wouldn’t be on the test anyway.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    I’m excited to work with our class of about 30 students and study in a tight-knit environment. After going to UVic for 3 years in my undergrad, I’m excited to be back on the island and do all the touristy things that I missed out on my first time around.

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    In my spare time I go to the gym, read something non-medical, and play video games (NBA, NHL, FIFA, MLB, you name it). I hope to take advantage of the free time I get, as opposed to spending it on my computer in a sea of memes.  I also find making and eating tacos a brilliant way to spice up my world (as long as they don’t fall apart when I eat them).

    Meet the Class of 2020: Kaity Lalonde

    Jan 18, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Name:  Kaity Lalonde

    Hometown: Vancouver, BC

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    I was attracted to the field of medicine because I was enamoured by the prospect of combining my love of science with my interest in social justice and passion for engaging with people to hear their stories.

    klYou recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    It was an amazing, but overwhelming, experience. It was a big change from my previous degrees and the demands were quite different, especially the volume of material. But, the topics were engaging, all the different sessions and workshops were fascinating, and it was a privilege to work alongside accomplished tutors, professors, physicians and peers. I feel very thankful I get to be part of this journey. It was a lot to take in at first, but it was exciting and I’m looking forward to this next semester!

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    It is okay to feel overwhelmed. It is okay to feel that things are hard. It is okay to be nervous. But, just keep working at it and find what works for you. I really benefited from connecting with some peers -- who have become great friends -- to share these experiences with and support each other through. Also, keeping balance in your life is something that is mentioned frequently. This can be really hard (and something I will be continuously working on), but taking time between studying to see friends, go for a run or do whatever activity it is that makes you happy will go a long way.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    I have never lived in Victoria before, so that in itself is very exciting! I am really looking forward to working in a smaller class size and having more personal interactions with the kind and supportive staff here at the IMP. A new adventure is always thrilling!

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    I love to run and do yoga. I also love books and try to spend some time reading each week. And, I enjoy baking and trying new restaurants with my friends and family!

    Meet high-school volunteer patient Gil White

    Jan 13, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    At just 15 years old, Gil White volunteered with the IMP's clinical skills sessions, eager to help and learn more about becoming a doctor. Now 17 and heading into his senior year at Stelly’s Secondary School in Saanich, BC, he’s committed to fulfilling his goal of becoming a surgeon. We sat down to learn more about him and his experience.

    What made you want to become a doctor?

    I decided on becoming a surgeon in Grade 6. There was nothing specific that lead me to that idea. I just thought about it, liked it, and started down that path. I knew I’d need good grades, so I started working harder in school. And it’s paid off.

    I got even more interested when I attended Medical School for Secondary Students (MedSS), hosted in the UVic Medical Sciences Building. We got talks from med students, heard more about the different fields of medicine, and even learned how to do sutures. All the kids attending were some of the smartest around. It was intimidating! So my goal was to speak out in front of them as much as possible. I actually wound up winning the Citizens Award for asking so many questions. I learned a ton – I loved it!

    What type of doctor would you like to become?

    A surgeon. I like drawing and building stuff. I’m good with my hands, so I think that would transfer over well. And surgery itself is so intriguing, so intense and exciting. I love the idea of helping someone in such an immediate way. In under 24 hours, you could perform a surgery on someone who's near death, and shortly after, they could be back with their families again. That’s crazy to me, and so inspiring.

    gwWhen did you hear about the Volunteer Patient Program (VPP)?

    I was at home sitting around and figured I better do something with my day. So I went online and started looking at different medical schools. I checked out UBC and discovered there was a medical school on the Island – the Island Medical Program. Then I saw they had volunteer opportunities, and I knew I needed to get involved. So I connected with Karen, the volunteer coordinator, and she got me right in.

    Do you recall what your first session was like?

    I do, actually. It was for some physical exam. There were three second-year students, all a little quiet. I suppose they didn’t expect to see some teenager taking part. But then the preceptor comes in, so charismatic and friendly, brimming with confidence, and he starts writing on the board. It was a lesson for the students, of course, but there I was learning a ton about internal medicine. I felt like I was getting paid for a free medical lesson.

    Has your volunteer experience changed how you view medicine or medical school?

    Yes. Aside from my great-grandfather, there’ve been no doctors in my family. I didn't know what the process looked like; when I was younger, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to become. I didn’t have a concrete image of what a doctor exactly was – but I did know that it’s not like Grey’s Anatomy.

    So coming in here and meeting the students helped me to figure out what I wanted to become. It gave me a general outline of the process and the profession, what they ask of the people wanting to become a doctor. I can analyze all of their traits and get an idea of the trends of successful applicants. It’s been great.


    Are you interested in volunteering with the Island Medical Program?

    We need standardized patients – a healthy person trained to simulate the personal history, physical symptoms, emotional characteristics and everyday concerns of an actual patient. And, of course, volunteer patients like Gil, who allow medical students to interview them about their health or perform non-invasive examinations.

    For more information, connect with Karen Basi, Volunteer Patient Coordinator, at karenpri@uvic.ca

    Meet the Class of 2020: Lauren Eadie

    Jan 12, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Students from the Class of 2020 recently joined the Island Medical Program after completing their first semester in Vancouver. We reached out to learn a little more about them, including their first few months in medical school.

    leName: Lauren Eadie

    Hometown: Nanaimo

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    The deep connection to the human condition. I am constantly inspired by the stories of others who allow us into the journey of their life. Very few jobs are as personal and raw as being a physician, and in that I find a humbling sense of what it means to be healthy and alive.

    You recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?  

    It was more than I could have imagined it being. I am very impressed with the multidisciplinary approach medicine is taking. I have high hopes that our new integrative curriculum will produce the physicians that are needed in this modern day.

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?  

    Find balance and pursue what brings you joy! I can not stress enough how important taking care of yourself is. I have only begun this marathon, but I am putting emphasis on starting good healthy habits and giving myself grace when needed. Have a beginner's mind, and let yourself make mistakes. This is the time to test the waters.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    I am so excited to be in a small, tight community of motivated, active individuals. We are all inspiring each other to do great things and I think that this support will give our education an edge. 

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    I love being physically active, especially outdoors. British Columbia has so many options for activity in all the seasons. Snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter, biking year round, hiking in the summer – the list is endless. I get into the mountains any chance I can. I also really enjoy yoga for calming the mind.

    Students to discuss exercise and spinal cord injury in the latest Let's Talk Science presentation

    Jan 12, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Meet the Class of 2020: Angeline de Bruyns

    Jan 10, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Students from the Class of 2020 recently joined the Island Medical Program after completing their first semester in Vancouver. We reached out to learn a little more about them, including their first few months in medical school.

    adbName: Angeline de Bruyns

    Hometown: Nanaimo, BC (but originally Swakopmund, Namibia)

    What attracted you to study medicine?

    I’m a sucker for science and love helping other people, so naturally I was drawn to medicine. For myself, I can’t imagine a career more fulfilling than medicine.

    You recently completed the first semester of your MD degree. How did it go?

    I loved it! I got to meet so many cool people in my program and learned so much about medicine. It was a lot of hard work keeping up with all the new material, but everything was so interesting it made it feel like less of a chore! Can’t wait to learn more!

    What advice would you give to students entering their first semester?

    Don’t leave studying to the last few weeks before the test. Try to review the material presented in class that same day or soon after. It makes it easier to wrap your head around the topic presented in each week as you go along and also you won’t be swamped and stressed out learning all of it right before midterms and finals! Don’t spend all of your time studying either! Make as many friends as possible and check out the social events. The bonds you make will definitely enrich your med school experience.

    What are you most excited about beginning your studies with the Island Medical Program?

    Being back on the Island (and the smaller class sizes will be huge plus)! Also, I’m really looking forward to spending more time with my IMP classmates and the 2nd year IMPers.

    What do you like to do in your spare time to relax and have fun?

    Any sports basically! Soccer, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, squash, snowboarding and running are some of my favorites. I also love anything to do with the outdoors. I’m always up to go camping or hiking!

    Summer Student Research Project highlight: Lee Bauer

    Jan 6, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Project title: Efficacy of Novel Movement Treatment Regimes in Decreasing Spasticity

    Supervisor: Dr. Paul Zehr

    Can you describe your project?

    After stroke there are changes in arm and leg coordination as well as increased muscle activity and spasticity in some muscles, which cause problems during walking. Because of this, many stroke survivors have flexed postures of one arm and one leg that often scuffs the floor when walking. Drugs can be taken to reduce too much muscle activation, but these same drugs also make people very tired and weak. Interventions that can reduce excessive muscle activity in overactive muscles and increase muscle activity in underactive muscles include rhythmic arm and leg training such as on an exercise machine.

    Unfortunately, sometimes the spasticity makes it impossible to have enough movement to actually train on any exercise equipment. Combined Botox© (a chemical that temporarily weakens over-active muscles) and ankle and elbow movement training (on a single limb rhythmic activation device) can help train stroke participants to a level that allows them to begin use of full exercise devices in a rehabilitation program. This approach could work well to bridge these severely affected patients into current research protocols such as strength training and arm and leg cycling. This project is a mechanistic assessment of the concept that single limb oscillation training combined with botulinum toxin therapy can improve patient range of motion sufficient to progress to whole body arm and leg cycling locomotor interventions


    Why were you interested in working on this project?

    I was interested in working on this project because I have always been fascinated by neuroscience and rehabilitation. This project was a great way to learn more about the basic science involved in rehabilitation while gaining some much needed research experience.

    What’s one thing that surprised you about the research?

    I was most surprised that I would actually enjoy research. I had always looked at research as a tedious process that can be overwhelming at times. My experience in the lab this summer, and specifically being involved in the scientific process, made me realize how valuable research is to my learning. Asking and answering research questions through raw data collection and analysis showed me how research can really consolidate my knowledge in a field of interest.

    How will this research experience help you in your future medical studies?

    This research experience has opened up a new area of learning for me. It also helped me realize how interesting research can be when you are passionate about what you study. I plan to further my research experience in the future regarding physical rehabilitation, either in my career or my residency, as this opportunity has reinforced my passion in this field of study.

    What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from your project? How has it influenced your perspective on medicine and patient care?

    The most important thing I learned from this project is that I am capable of doing research on my own. I realized how much teamwork is involved in the lab and in the scientific community as a whole. You truly are never on your own when conducting research.

    This experience has influenced my perspective on medicine and patient care by showing me how much work goes into evidence-based treatment. It is simple to follow evidence-based guidelines without thinking how much work has gone into the development of those guidelines. I’ve also learned that, in research, almost nothing is 100% black and white. This is important to understand when considering patient variability while following evidence-based guidelines in medicine.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    The SSRP was a great chance for me to become fully immersed in research. I really enjoyed working in the Neuroscience Rehabilitation Lab at UVic this summer. My colleagues and my supervisor, Dr. Zehr, made this experience even more enjoyable. I would strongly recommend this program to any students looking to gain research experience during the short summer period.


    The Faculty of Medicine Summer Student Research Project (FoM SSRP) provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to explore their interest in medical research by undertaking a project during the summer, under the supervision of a principal investigator who holds an appointment in the Faculty of Medicine.

    Learn how to apply: http://www.med.ubc.ca/current-learners/summer-student-research-program/students/

    Mini Med School to start soon

    Jan 4, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Mini Med School is about to start. Check out some interesting lectures by passionate second-year medical students!


    IMP students to give public healthcare lectures

    Dec 16, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Starting in mid-January 2017, two students from the Island Medical Program (IMP) will be offering a series of public healthcare lectures as part of a joint engagement-research project.

    Samuel Harder and Sergiy Shatenko, second-year peers, designed Mini Med School to not only inform the community about important health topics – something they’re passionate about – but also to study whether public education programs make an impact.

    “Many residency and medical school programs have used Mini Med School, or programs like it, to engage the community,” said Harder. “But interestingly, not much research has been done on whether such outreach changes people’s health behaviors. That’s what we’re interested in.”

    The lecture series will feature talks on six relevant topics, including chronic illness, preventative medicine, and medical testing. Everyone is welcome to attend, but those interested in the study will need to fill out a survey and attend a minimum of four lectures.

    The project was inspired by another seminar series called Let’s Talk the Science of Medicine, which Harder and Shatenko took part in during their first year. They enjoyed the experience, giving a total of four presentations, but felt the lectures could be expanded.

    “As medical students, we are in a unique position to bridge the gap between doctors and the general public,” said Shatenko. “We wanted to take LTS one step further and develop greater continuity from one lecture to the next. This will allow us to create a more comprehensive picture of health and diseases, and that could ultimately improve health outcomes for communities.”

    Harder and Shatenko have developed Mini Med School as their Foundations of Scholarship and Flexible Enhanced Learning (FLEX) project. FLEX, a mandatory component of the IMP’s curriculum, requires medical students to develop a directed study initiative, which they design and run with the help of a supervisor.

    Dr. Jane Gair, a Teaching Professor with UVic’s Division of Medical Sciences, is overseeing the project. Not only will participants learn more about health, she said, but they’ll be engaging with passionate students.

    “We have two dynamic speakers presenting on relevant, interesting health topics,” she said. “These talks, we hope, will improve health literacy, which will empower patients for when they next visit their physician.”

    Despite Mini Med School being a curriculum project, Harder and Shatenko see it as a first step into a larger – and important – part of healthcare education for communities across BC.

    “We’re hoping that IMP students who come after us decide to continue this project and improve on what we’ve started,” said Shatenko. “We’d especially like to see it reach higher risk populations, who have limited access to healthcare resources.”


    The Mini Med School lectures will be presented on January 14, 21 and 28, and February 4, 11 and 18. Each will take place from 10am – 12pm in the Medical Sciences Building (MSB) 150 on the University of Victoria’s campus.

    For more information on the lectures and the research project, visit uvic.ca/medsci/mms or contact Jane Gair at jgair@uvic.ca

    Dr. Stan Bardal says goodbye to the IMP, DMSC

    Dec 13, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    sbOn Thursday, December 8, staff, faculty, and students celebrated Dr. Stan Bardal's long tenure with, and incredible accomplishments in, the Island Medical Program (IMP) and the Division of Medical Sciences (DMSC). December 31 will mark Dr. Bardal's last day with both programs.

    "I have many friends in the city and in Vancouver, and with my continuing work at UBC, I certainly won’t be a stranger to the IMP," said Dr. Bardal. "I will always be thankful to former IMP dean Dr. Casiro, who convinced me to leave the 'big smoke’ (UBC) for UVic, and for all my colleagues I have worked with over the years."

    Just a few of Dr. Bardal’s more recent accomplishments include:

    Creator of a drug formulary and app, used by thousands worldwide; co-lead for the Pharmacotheraphy theme and MEDD 412 Week 31; tutor for problem-based and case-based learning; supervisor and advisor in the FLEX courses; and creator of, and teacher in, a new Geriatric Pharmacology course at UVic.

    These contributions and the many, many others not listed are unto themselves exceptionally laudable. But what has been the most consistent and notable are the accolades of the medical students. Dr. Bardal has, year over year, won the respect and admiration of students, resulting in multiple teaching awards.

    The IMP and DMSC staff and faculty, as well as past and present IMP students, we would like to thank Dr. Bardal for his commitment to providing students with an excellent educational experience. As well, his significant contribution to the development of pharmacology teaching within the Faculty of Medicine has firmly established this important topic in the undergraduate medical education curriculum.

    Happy Holidays from the IMP and DMSC

    Dec 8, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    As the holidays creep closer – along with the promise of family gatherings, lots of food, and inevitable weight gain – the Island Medical Program and the Division of Medical Sciences would like to thank all those who are, and have been, a part of our outstanding team.

    Staff, faculty, and clinical faculty: you’re the reason these programs thrive each year, that we’re able to train the next generation of physicians and researchers who, like you, contribute to a better, healthier, and happier world. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication.

    We asked our team what they like best about the holiday season, or if they had any special memories to share. They did not disappoint:


    Aleah Ross, Program Support Years 1 – 4

    My favorite part of the holidays? Receiving a warm welcome from my family (pets included) when I go home to Alberta for Christmas each year. I love all of the activities we get to spend time doing together that go along with a white Christmas, especially skating on a local pond just off the river near my childhood home. It helps to work off a few of the many sugar cookies I plan to decorate and indulge in – my favorite every year!

    Kristofer Harder, IMP Class of 2017

    My favourite thing about the holidays with my family is how relaxed it is. We don't typically have an overtly set schedule, or necessarily places to be, or even a defined date. Between me and my two sisters and our work/school commitments, one year we celebrated Christmas on Jan 2nd and it didn't matter.

    Jenn MacMillan, Program Manager Years 1 & 2

    I love our family traditions – Chinese food on Christmas Eve, an eggs benedict breakfast on Christmas morning, napping, and a game of Mad Libs.

    My favorite part of all is decorating our Christmas dinner table and having all of my family together in one place (as it rarely happens with so much busyness in our lives). This year we made our own decorations from recyclables (including used coffee pods), so it truly is a green tree!

    Kurt McBurney, Assistant Teaching Professor

    My favourite part of the holidays has traditionally been the day after Christmas Day. For my family, Christmas Day is when we can all be together; we’ve had Christmas on a lot of different days! But my favourite day is the day after that day when the big meal and the presents are done. This is the day we wake up and eat this big ring my Mum makes (essentially it’s a big cinnamon bun). Then the rest of the day we eat leftovers, watch movies, and play board games; sometimes we even get in a good street hockey game or outside football on those rare occasions we have had deep snow. And of course watching the world juniors and the Spengler Cup have always been part of my holiday tradition.

    Jo-Anne Neustaedter, Program Assistant Years 3 & 4 Central Island

    I love our family time at Christmas. Especially creating new memories and watching my grandchildren grow and how excited they are at this time of year.

    I love snow, and my favorite holiday dish is stuffing with bacon. My favorite holiday memory was a Christmas in Banff a couple of years ago – it was an amazing time. We took the kids on a sleigh ride, then to the hot springs.

    I love everything about the holidays. My mother passed away on Christmas Eve, so we take this day to celebrate the amazing mom and nana she was. She is my reason for the love of Christmas.

    Lianne Peterson, Administrative Director

    I received a life-sized doll from Santa when I was four years old. I loved her much more than my baby sister. My doll went everywhere with me – she was the sister I really wanted, so I was happy that Santa listened. This doll helped me get over the disappointment of having a baby sister who was no fun at all.

    Keely Hammond, Class of 2019

    My favourite winter memories in Victoria are outdoor ones. Going cross-country skiing on the beach at Ross Bay (probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience) when I was a high school student and skating on frozen fields (happens every couple of years or so) out by the highway to the ferries are the top two.

    Stephanie Eamergoult, Site Coordinator, IMG, Academic & Faculty Support, Family Practice

    One thing my family and I like to do is go up to Nanaimo to GoGo's Christmas Tree Farm and cut down our Christmas tree. We meet a group of friends up at a Serious Coffee in Nanaimo and then convoy to the farm, coffees in hand. We drive and walk all over to find the “perfect” tree, cut it down, grab some free holly or tree boughs, and then we go back to our friends' place in Nanaimo for nibbles and drinks. It is a great day.

    Lynne Fisher, Program Manager Years 3 & 4

    I really enjoy having a moment to slow down the hectic pace of life and spending time with family and friends. In particular, for me, having a daughter with special needs who is like “Peter Pan” and forever young in mind and spirit, I get the sheer joy of seeing Christmas every year through her eyes and the anticipation and excitement it brings, so I’m forever grateful for that.

    Growing up in Winnipeg, I must admit that I do miss the snow at holiday time, but I don’t miss the shoveling! We decorate a lot and really enjoy seeing the kids in our neighborhood stopping by to enjoy the decorations.

    Aldyth Booton, Program Assistant Years 3 & 4, UBC Postgraduate Family Residency Program

    I love that my parents and our children always come to our home in Campbell River for Christmas. We’ve only missed having the whole family together once. And, weather permitting, we try to get out for a day in the woods (hiking, sledding, target practice, campfire and great food).

    My favorite Christmas treat is homemade shortbread. My paternal great grandmother had a bakery in a small town in Scotland and brought their recipe with them to Canada. It has been handed down as a traditional Christmas treat in our family ever since. I make huge batches every year for family and friends. It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without it.

    Karen Basi-Primeau, Patient Programs Coordinator

    I think for me, the traditions/values I have instilled with my daughters is that the holidays are about spending time with family and friends, preparing and sharing food, and doing at least an outing together without any drama!

    We pick a fun movie out in the theatres and then go to see the gingerbread houses at Laurel Point. 

    The holidays are also about drinking mulled apple cider and hot chocolate – made with real chocolate, of course!


    Happy holidays, everyone, and may your celebrations be relaxing, safe, and enjoyable!

    New clinical research centre envisioned for Vancouver Island

    Dec 9, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Graduate students prepare samples for analysis in mass spectrometers.

    A new clinical research centre is being envisioned for Vancouver Island.

    The Centre would feature a partnership between the IMP and the University of Victoria-Genome BC Proteomics Centre (the latter a collaboration between Island Health and the University of Victoria). Together, the two partners would focus on translating proteomics research – the study of protein expression in an organism – into more effective clinical treatments for serious diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.

    The key to this initiative, says Dr. Bruce Wright, the IMP’s Regional Associate Dean, is the analytical expertise the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre would bring. “Their strength is not that they have expensive, high-end equipment; they do, and that’s significant,” he said. “But more importantly, they know how to use it – and it’s resulted in their reputation as an excellent proteomics platform.”

    This reputation extends beyond the City of Victoria, the province, and even Canada. “We have clients around the world,” said Dr. Christoph Borchers, the Centre’s Director and Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at UVic. “We examine samples for academic, government, and private institutions, some of which are very well known, like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.” Recently, the Centre signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Cancer Research Program, initiated and directed by US Vice President Joe Biden, which includes three other universities that Borchers has worked with, including UBC, McGill, and the Leibniz Institute for Analytical Sciences in Dortmund, Germany.

    Dr. Borchers brings an abundance of leadership experience to the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre. Originally from Germany, he received a Ph.D. in Chemistry, with a focus on protein chemistry using mass spectrometry. Shortly after, he was appointed Director of UNC-Duke Proteomics Facility in North Carolina, USA. Today, alongside his UVic Professorship and role as Director with the Proteomics Centre, Dr. Borchers is a Professor in McGill University’s Department of Oncology, and holds the Segal Chair in Molecular Oncology at the Jewish General Hospital at McGill.

    While his leadership is moving the Proteomics Centre in exciting directions, Dr. Borchers is quick to acknowledge the roughly 30-person team – a combination of scientists, researchers, staff, and students – who’ve been instrumental to the Centre’s success. “We have excellent people solving tough biological problems. They’re publishing high-impact articles in renowned journals, like Nature. They’re very productive, and we’re lucky to have them.”

    What’s the primary goal of the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre and its talented team? Using mass spectrometers – it has 11 of them, which together cost roughly $10 million – the Centre analyzes the proteome, or the protein content, of biological samples. The sample is carefully prepared, then introduced into a mass spectrometer, which separates components on the basis of their mass and electrical charge. Modern mass spectrometers enable the analysis of large, clinically-important biomolecules, such as antibodies and proteins, typically by putting multiple charges on each molecule. Inside the machine, a second stage of mass spectrometry can be used to read off the amino acid sequence of the protein like a bar code. The spacing between the bars can be used to pinpoint modifications to specific amino acids that make up the proteins in the sample. 

    “Essentially, mass spectrometers are fancy scales – and they’re incredibly precise,” said Derek Smith, the Proteomic Centre’s Lab Manager. “But these machines can do more than that: proteins can be covered in chemical groups, such as sugars or phosphates, which affect how they interact with other proteins. We can actually see how proteins talk to each other, what mutations are occurring, in great detail.”


    The UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre has 11 mass spectrometers, each ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.

    Sometimes these mutations are bad news. For example, proteins may interact in a way that allows for the formation of cancer cells. But thanks to the field of proteomics, powered by equipment like mass spectrometers, scientists can spot patterns that lead to such diseases. That research can then be used to develop, say, inhibitor drugs that prevent those interactions from taking place. “Right now, cancer therapies aren’t as effective as we’d like,” said Dr. Borchers. “Some have a response rate of 60%; other are only 30%. But with proteomics data, combined with the genomics (the study of DNA), we have the opportunity to develop treatments that are extremely effective for a variety of conditions and diseases.”

    Despite this exciting potential, the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre is only an analytical lab. It examines samples for other organizations, but does not set up medical research projects in-house – and this is precisely what the partnership with UBC, by way of the Island Medical Program, would provide. “The Proteomics Centre has the expertise and the analytical capabilities,” says Dr. Wright. “And if we pair that with the IMP, which has the infrastructure to define the research and develop the results, we can build a centre that can do it all: create research protocols and develop clinically relevant treatments.”

    The combined initiative, though still conceptual, has been well-received. The idea began when Dr. Wright first learned about the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre two years ago. At that time, the Centre was working with McGill on the clinical application of the its research, but there was no collaboration with the medical school next door – UBC’s Island Medical Program. “Everyone that I talked with – UBC, UVic, Island Health, the Proteomics Centre itself – felt there was an excellent opportunity to combine forces,” said Wright. Dr. Borchers agreed: “We had people asking us why we were doing this work in Montreal but not here. It was a great question. But before Bruce, we didn’t have someone seriously promoting the partnership.” Since then, no official decisions have been made, but the prospects are looking good: nearly $1.8 million in funding is being considered for the centre, and there’s been discussions about where the space might be located.

    If all goes according to plan, the new clinical proteomics centre will mark the beginning of an exciting partnership on the Island. “We’d like to have satellite centres around Canada, with the UVic-Genome BC Proteomics Centre as the primary node,” said Dr. Borchers. “This is already happening: we’re looking at a partnership with the Sick Kids Hospital, in Toronto, and the BC Cancer Agency.” For Dr. Bruce Wright, this expansion would not only include other satellites around Canada, but a comprehensive research platform that could improve the health of populations on the Island and across the country. “We could combine this proteomics data with genomics data, clinical information, medical information, and social determinants of health, like income” he said. “Such a database would help us really understand – and improve – the overall health of our communities. And that’s a very good thing.”

    Inaugural year a success for simulation centre

    Dec 7, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    On the second floor of a hospital facility in Victoria, BC, patients repeatedly face medical distress hour after hour, day after day, just so others can learn how to best respond. The good news? The patients are sophisticated life-like mannequins, and the simulated in-hospital, operations, and critical-care rooms are training hundreds of people in the health professions.

    Since the Centre for Interprofessional Clinical Simulation Learning, or CICSL, opened in September 2015 at Royal Jubilee Hospital, nearly 1300 nursing and medical students, residents, and other healthcare practitioners have learned valuable lessons.

    “We’ve been very happy with the response,” said Darin Abbey, CICSL’s Director and an RN of 15 years. “We’ve had close to 300 registered nurses participate in simulations. We’ve had medical students from the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Island Medical Program, Island Health teams, midwives, and even the Canadian Armed Forces take part. People recognize the value that simulation training offers. We’re busy every day, and it’s exciting.”

    Planning for CICSL actually began five years earlier, in 2011, when the University of Victoria (UVic), the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Island Medical Program, and Island Health formed a unique collaboration which resulted in the shared governance model that built and now supports the Centre. It took some time in those early days for the partnership to work through the financial, academic, and logistical hurdles, a daunting task given the size of the organizations involved. But thanks to dedicated efforts from leadership, the centre finally opened in September 2015.

    Why this particular partnership? Because, explained Abbey, it was a clear opportunity to address overlapping goals for each organization. “Simulation training is recognized, through mounds of research, as a fantastic way to train nursing and medical students, as well as continue the education of established practitioners,” he said. “And because healthcare is constantly changing, as are learners and their expectations, we needed a safe place for collaborative learning. The simulation centre provides all of that.” CICSL’s large user base suggests that others agree. And as the Centre becomes more established, the number of users, not to mention the diversity of health professions involved, will expand.

    It’s not hard to see why CICSL is so popular. Inside are learning laboratories that exactly replicate common healthcare environments, including an operating theatre, critical-care space, four-patient hospital ward, and a living room used to practice in-home care. Attached to these spaces are mini control rooms, where facilitators remotely control life-like mannequins to reproduce healthcare scenarios – anything from a heart attack to a mother giving birth.

    Bringing the simulations to life are the sophisticated patient mannequins. These $100,000-plus life-size dolls do nearly everything one might expect of their human counterparts. They breathe, sweat, cry, and vomit. Their pupils react to light. They go into cardiac arrest. They require IVs and constant monitoring. And if the ailment is especially painful, they’ll even scream out – a jarring experience, especially for those interacting with the mannequins for the first time.

    CICSL can also replicate large-scale disasters involving many patients, often all suffering from different injuries. For Anna Macdonald, CICSL’s Operations Manager, these multi-patient scenarios have been a highlight. “We’ve had anesthesia workshops, where everyone is dressed exactly like they’d be in a hospital,” she recalled. “The participants are running through many different emergency situations. It’s interesting to see what goes well and what errors are made, and how people react to these errors. It gets emotionally charged and very real for the people involved.”

    Sometimes these simulations result in a patient’s recovery. Other times, like the reality CICSL works so hard to replicate, patients don’t make it. But what remains constant is a dedication to a safe learning environment – one where, no matter the outcome, people work together to learn, or improve, or get better at what they’re already experts in. “When a simulation goes exceptionally well, that’s excellent,” said Abbey. “When something happens that needs to be better understood, that’s also excellent. Either way, we’re provoking reflective practice with our teams. We’re constantly learning with, from, and about each other.”

    This reflective practice, in the form of post-scenario debriefs, is the lifeblood of a successful sim session – and its longest component. Through a series of questions, facilitators review what happened during a simulation, then promote a group analysis in order to unpack people’s decision-making. “We try to understand what people were thinking during a session,” said Abbey. “Our goal, specifically, is to figure out why people made certain choices. Even when they did something right, they’re not always sure why they’re right. We’re interested in the why.” The hope is that such reflection, practiced regularly and in-depth, will carry over to the important work healthcare practitioners are doing each day – and with live patients. “At the end of each debrief,” said Anna Macdonald, “we ask people, how will this benefit your clinical practice? How will it benefit the people you’re serving? Because simulation is ultimately about improving the care for everyone.”

    Despite how tough the simulation experience can be – from preparation to the lengthy debrief, not to mention the scenarios themselves – users recognize the value that CICSL and its facilities provide. In its recent “Inaugural Year in Review” report, CICSL shared some comments from its users: “Very supportive environment; good simulation scenarios. Enjoyable,” wrote a rural family physician. “Amazing and valuable learning experience,” said a BCIT specialty nursing student. “We all need more sim. It is the best way to learn outside reality,” mentioned a second-year medical resident.

    But the positive reception also reverberates in the halls of CICSL itself. From his office, Abbey often hears the excitement – and apprehension – of those coming in for a session, especially from students and first-timers. Afterwards, there’s more than a sense of relief. “When they leave, I hear participants talk about how much they enjoyed the experience, that they learned a lot, that they discovered something about themselves or their team,” said Abbey. “It’s incredibly gratifying to hear.” But it’s not just talk: though not all healthcare professionals are required to use CICSL, or simulations in general, many return to practice.

    Despite the success and the praise, Abbey and his team know there’s lots to be done, in no small part because healthcare itself is a moving target. New medical techniques and breakthroughs, changing expectations, interdisciplinary teams with different perspectives, flexible learning and outcomes, an increasing number of research projects – there’s a lot CICSL has to consider. But this hard work is made easier, said Abbey, because of the cohesive vision, not to mention the dedication, of the Centre and its supporters: “We have three committed partners, and they’re focused on the same thing: to provide the best, most impactful training for our users.”

    With CICSL’s first year now complete, what’s the future for the Centre look like? Certainly an increase in capacity, in ground-breaking research, in the number of interprofessional teams working on any given simulation scenario, which reflects the reality of healthcare today. All of this growing activity will take a heavy toll on CICSL’s equipment – and for CICSL’s team, that’ll be a mark of success: “The Centre will feel well used,” said Abbey. “It will need to replace its gear, because it’s tired and beaten. It’ll have contributed significantly to the learning of our healthcare community. It will be a prime example of knowledge translation, research, and collaboration that benefits everyone.” Getting to that point will be a lot of work, Abbey admits. But the work is worthwhile, because of the benefits to be gained. “CICSL and its goals are pretty noteworthy to me. We’re grateful to be part of it.”


    If you are interested in learning more about simulation, or utilizing the CICSL for teaching opportunities, please contact Darin and Anna through simsupp@uvic.ca

    IMP students engage patients to improve healthcare

    Dec 2, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Two third-year students from the Island Medical Program (IMP) are looking to improve healthcare – not in a research lab, but in hospital wards, where they’re asking patients to speak up about their experiences.

    Meagan McKeen and Elisabeth Pharo are piloting a new patient-based survey system, called The Patient’s View, on the pediatric unit at Victoria General Hospital (VGH). The tool empowers patients to report on any issues with the care they receive – a practice that is not yet mainstream.

    “Patients and families want to report on legitimate, unreported safety concerns,” said Pharo. “But for whatever reason, this is not a common procedure. We need a healthcare model that engages patients in all aspects of care. This survey is designed to do just that.”

    McKeen and Pharo’s project is modeled after the original Patient’s View, implemented in 2012 at BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) in Vancouver, BC. There, patients reported on four key areas where problems could arise: medications, equipment, communication, and complications of care. These issues were then relayed to healthcare professionals and administrators, who used the information to improve healthcare effectiveness while decreasing provider burnout.

    “It was a major success,” said McKeen, who volunteered for the BCCH pilot project. “It gave patients a voice that positively impacted the care that they and others received.”

    The original pilot project was so successful, in fact, that it spread to every ward in BCCH and was adopted by the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England.

    The positive response has carried over to VGH, too. The Patient’s View, in its current incarnation, has been well received by patients, families, clinical staff, administrators, and volunteers who are part of the project. Its impact will be formally evaluated by the implementing team next spring.

    McKeen and Pharo recently entered their clerkship year, and so handed the project reigns to second-year IMP students Stephanie D’Aoust and Andrew Watters. Thought they’re excited for the next phase of their medical education, McKeen and Pharo will keep an eager eye on the project they feel will have a big impact.

    “Engaging in patient-centered care, feeling part of the healthcare team at VGH, empowering providers and patients to make care safer – it’s been really rewarding to be part of such an important project,” said Pharo.

    McKeen agrees: “I’m excited to see this valuable program expanding into more areas of healthcare. One day, I hope to see it adopted throughout BC and beyond.”

    IMP clinical faculty member considers how to improve current healthcare model

    Nov 2, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    We recently sat down with Dr. Alex Henri-Bhargava, the Clinical Skills Site Director for the Island Medical Program (IMP), to discuss his recent Walrus Talk, entitled “Dementia: the last frontier of quality of life.”


    In his presentation, Dr. Henri-Bhargava calls for an interdisciplinary approach to brain medicine, as well as the implementation of a rapid learning healthcare system. If healthcare professions collaborate more closely with each other and with scientists, he argues, then we’ll be better equipped to understand and treat debilitating neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s. See his full talk on YouTube.

    What do you mean by the “last frontier” in the title of your talk?

    Many people prepare for a certain quality of life. They make plans for saving up, downsizing, and ensuring their affairs are in order before they retire. Then dementia hits them. It’s the one thing they can’t do much about, and it has a devastating impact on their quality of life. But dementia is just one piece of a complicated puzzle – the puzzle of helping our aging population live well more generally.

    You talk about a Rapid Learning Healthcare System – what is this and why is it important?

    This refers to the way we deliver care. Right now, the way we acquire knowledge in medicine is very top-down. A bunch of smart people will make a discovery in a lab. Then that discovery – sometimes years later – moves into the clinical sphere, where it’s translated into a new surgery, for example, or a new drug.

    But in a Rapid Learning Healthcare System, researchers have access to the patient information that doctors collect every day, which is then used to drive discoveries that can be quickly fed back to clinicians for immediate use. For example, neurologists across the country could use a standardized assessment to test for dementia. Many patients would take this assessment, meaning there’d be a large pool of data. Researchers, who would have access to this data, may discover that the first three questions of the assessment give neurologists all the information they need to make an accurate diagnosis, therefore cutting down the time required for assessment. This discovery is then shared with neurologists in real time, who can then implement it right away. This evolved healthcare system allows for faster discovery, less waste, and ultimately better treatment for patients.

    What is the Interdisciplinary Brain Medicine initiative?

    This is about the future education of healthcare professionals. There are many different types of brain conditions out there. How we diagnose and treat these conditions is rapidly expanding – but it’s expanding in medicinal silos. The Interdisciplinary Brain Medicine initiative wants to solve this by equipping specialists with the knowledge of other fields. For example, if I as a neurologist know more about mood disorders – treated by psychiatrists – then I’ll have a better idea of how to manage a patient with Parkinson’s who is also suffering from depression.

    It’s been a challenging initiative to organize, but we submitted our application for the development of this program to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in September. We’re focused on bringing together six feeder specialties – psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, neurology, geriatric medicine, neurosurgery, and physical medicine rehabilitation.

    Do you see the eradication of certain neurological disorders, perhaps all of them, within 50 years?

    That’s a possibility – and if not the eradication, then a modification of the effects these diseases have on people. We’ll soon be testing the limits of human longevity. Some argue that many forms of later-life dementia are the bi-products of a degenerating brain: that is, the brain has a certain life expectancy, and eventually it outlives its cycle. But I don’t agree with that argument. There are many examples of people in their late 90s who are successful and cognitively intact without dementia. They may be outliers, and if they are, then we should try and push humanity towards that outlier status.

    Do you see gene editing as a way to combat neurological conditions?

    I don’t know about this yet for dementia, but gene editing is already becoming a reality for some conditions. For example, I have a close friend who has Hunter’s Syndrome – a rare genetic illness that afflicts maybe six other people in Canada. He’s been told multiple times that he’ll die within the year. One of the reasons he’s still alive is because he took part in an enzyme replacement trial. That medication has since been approved, and he still takes it. Now, he’s about to embark on a new clinical trial with a gene-altering tool, where they’ll program a virus to reinsert the gene that he’s missing. That’s very exciting. But there’s the dangers of gene editing – of playing God, essentially. That’s why the social sciences are important: we need to ensure the tools we develop are used in ethical and careful ways.


    Dr. Henri-Bhargava completed his MD, CM and neurology residency at McGill University. He then completed a fellowship in behavioral neurology at the University of Toronto, where he’s currently completing a Masters in Health Practitioner Teacher Education. He moved back to Victoria in 2012, and has since built a successful clinical practice and participated in several clinical research projects.

    2016 Teaching Awards announced

    Oct 21, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    Congratulations to Dr. Margaret Manville, the 2016 receipient of the Dr. Bruce Crawford Award of Excellence.

    This annual award is presented by third-year IMP students to the teacher, preceptor, or tutor who's made a significant impact on the students' first two years of medical training.

    "I am so humbled and thrilled about this award," said Dr. Manville. "Teaching in the undergraduate medical program has been a joy, and being a part of educating the next generation of physicians is a great privilege. These IMP students are going to be fantastic physicians. I'm the lucky one."

    Dr. Manville will be formally recognized for this award at the IMP and DRM Teaching Awards Recognition Reception on Thursday, December 15, 2016.


    As well, award winners for the Year 3 Teaching Awards for 2016 have been announced. These awards are made on the recommendation of fourth-year students of the IMP, based on the teaching they received during their third year.

    2016 Vancouver Island Clerkship Preceptors Teaching Excellence Awards -- Dr. Jim Spence.

    This award acknowledges the outstanding dedication, enthusiasm and respect a clerkship preceptor demonstrates in teaching the third-year students of the Island Medical Program.

    2016 Island Medical Program Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award -- Pediatrics.

    This award acknowledges the rotation that provides the most efficient, supportive, and engaging learning environment for third-year clinical clerk medical students of the Island Medical Program.

    2016 Resident Teaching Excellence Award -- Dr. Shamir Rai.

    This award acknowledges the outstanding dedication, enthusiasm and respect that Vancouver Island residents demonstrate in teaching the third-year students of the Island Medical Program.

    2016 Vancouver Island Clerkship Preceptor Teaching Excellence Award -- Dr. Andrea Bardell.

    This award acknowledges the outstanding dedication, enthusiasm, and respect a clerkship preceptor demonstrates in teaching the third-year students of the Island Medical Program. 


    Please join us in congratulating these individuals for all of their hard work. The awards will be presented during the Victoria Medical Society Welcome Dinner for the Class of 2020 on January 28, 2017.

    A warm welcome to two new IMP staff

    Oct 19, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Please welcome two of the Island Medical Program's newest staff -- Elizabeth Heslop and Sara Ohora.


    Meet Liz, the IMP's new Technical Analyst with the MedIT team.

    Liz is from all over Vancouver Island, but she grew up mainly in Duncan and Qualicum Beach. She recently completed her B.Eng in Electrical Engineering at UVic. In her spare time, she loves to bike, play flute and tenor saxophone, and travel.

    You'll fine Liz in the Medical Sciences Building (MSB), room 161.


    Say hello to Sara, the Division of Medical Sciences' Research Operations Coordinator.

    After completing her MSc at Western University, Sara was eager for a change of scenery and began searching for opportunities on the West Coast. She moved to Victoria in 2014 after accepting a research assistant position in UVic’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. A desire to pursue new career opportunities within UVic brought her to the IMP team, where she now supports DMS research staff and students.

    In her spare time she enjoys exploring the Island with her dog, Milo, playing soccer, and gardening.

    You'll find Sara in MSB 216.

    Students to discuss medical marijuana in the latest Let's Talk Science seminar

    Oct 11, 2016 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Join us for the latest talk in the Let's Talk Science seminar series.