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    News and views from the Island Medical Program

    Second-year student Max Moor-Smith talks about his Summer Student Research project in India

    Oct 31, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Each summer, students from across the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s MD Undergraduate Program have the opportunity to pursue their passion for medical research and work closely with faculty members from across the province through the Faculty of Medicine's Summer Student Research Program (FoM SSRP).

    From exploring the benefits of exercise for stroke recovery to understanding how to provide culturally safe care, students in the FoM's SSRP take a deeper look into a wide variety of research topics.

    We connected with Max Moor-Smith, a second-year student in the Island Medical Program, to learn more about his work on sustainable health education in Spiti Valley, India.


    Can you briefly describe your project?

    The India Spiti Health Project, established in 2006 in partnership with the Munsel-ling Boarding School, in Spiti Valley, India, is part of the UBC Global Health Initiative. Each year, a multidisciplinary team of UBC students travel to the school and assist with health promotion projects.

    This year, our team focused on providing sustainable health education for students. We met with the Student Health Council, a group of senior students responsible for promoting healthy behaviors to younger students. Together, we decided on the medium we’d use (video) and the health messages we’d share: handwashing before eating and after using the toilet, how to use the toilet properly, and brushing teeth at least once per day. We based our film’s storyline on Ghostbusters; our version was called Germbusters.

    We recruited members of the Student Health Council as actors, who, in turn, recruited many of their younger friends to participate. Over fifty children were involved in the making of the movie.

    On our last day at the school, with over 500 students in attendance, as well as school administration and teaching staff, we unveiled Germbusters. Before this assembly, I conducted a small focus group to evaluate the children’s perceptions of what healthy behaviours are and which of those they incorporated in their day-to-day lives. The responses revolved mostly around diet and bathing. After the film, I did a second focus group and asked the same questions. This time, the group’s responses also included handwashing, tooth-brushing, and using the toilet properly.

    A copy of the film was left with the school administration. Plans were discussed to show to the school on a semi-regular basis, as well as put it up on YouTube and possibly on local cable television.

    Why were you interested in working on this project?

    I’ve been interested in global health since well before medical school. The disparities in health between urban Canadians and much of the global population is something that I am keen to help improve. This project allowed me the opportunity to contribute to a successful longitudinal global health project that does a good job of addressing those disparities. Not only that, but the video project was meaningful for the kids involved. It’s my hope that the messages in the film will be more widely accepted due to the creative way they were presented.

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

    How much fun it was! It was neat to participate in research that was so involved with the population it studies. I really enjoyed connecting with the kids and seeing them take ownership of the project themselves.

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

    Participating in the project makes me even more enthused about taking on more global health research projects in the future. With this experience, I feel I have gained a new perspective on how to address global health challenges, and that I’m well situated to continue with this type of work.

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

    The importance of the context in patient care. Patients do not live in isolation from their environment. I have a better understanding, now, that medicine deals with a person’s health in the context of their life; the care that person receives should reflect that.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?

    Go to Spiti Valley – you will not regret it!

    Fourth-year student Ashely Yip talks about her Summer Student Research Project

    Oct 26, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Each summer, students from across the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s MD Undergraduate Program have the opportunity to pursue their passion for medical research and work closely with faculty members from across the province through the Faculty of Medicine's Summer Student Research Program (FoM SSRP).

    ayFrom exploring the benefits of exercise for stroke recovery to understanding how to provide culturally safe care, students in the FoM's SSRP take a deeper look into a wide variety of research topics.

    We connected with Ashley Yip, a fourth-year student in the Island Medical Program, to learn more about her work on breast cancer and anxiety.

    Can you briefly describe your project?

    More women diagnosed with breast cancer are choosing to have both breasts removed (contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM), rather than just the one with cancer. My study is examining the psychosocial benefit of CPM compared to unilateral mastectomy and lumpectomy. I am particularly interested in whether CPM reduces rates of anxiety around the time of post-surgical follow-up mammography, which can be a very stressful moment for women as they worry about cancer recurrence.

    Why were you interested in working on this project?

    Prior to medical school, I worked at the B.C. Cancer Agency on research projects in the early detection of breast cancer. I also attended survivor support groups and was involved with organizing the Run for the Cure. It’s empowering to work with women who face cancer and watch how they persevere through the diagnosis. This project allowed me to engage this population, learn from their experiences, and contribute to the scant literature on this topic.

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

    The support from the women and how excited they are about the study. I had a phone call with one woman who was very enthusiastic about the project and the work we are doing, and couldn’t wait to be involved. That was very encouraging!

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

    I’ve expanded my knowledge of statistics and study design. My goal is to continue to engage in clinical research, and this experience with the FoM SSRP has taught me valuable lessons to take into future projects.

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

    This project has stressed to me that psychosocial outcomes are important. Although the recurrence rate for breast cancer is low, the peace of mind afforded by one surgery over another is a major factor to consider.


    Support undergraduate students with an opportunity to explore their interests in medical research. The program is funded through the generous contribtuions of our donors and partners. Click here for more information on how to contribute.

    IMP announces 2017 third-year teaching awards

    Oct 2, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    The UBC Island Medical Program has announced the Year 3 Teaching Awards for 2017.

    These awards are chosen by fourth-year IMP students and are based on students' experience in their third year.

    Vancouver Island Clerkship Preceptors Teaching Excellence Award

    This award acknowledges the outstanding dedication, enthusiasm, and respect a clerkship preceptor demonstrates in teaching.

    This year's recepient is Dr. Rebecca Morley.

    IMP Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award

    This award acknowledges the rotation that provides the most efficient, supportive, and engaging learning environment.

    This year's recipient is Obstetrics & Gynecology.

    Resident Teaching Excellence Award

    This award acknolwedges the outstanding dedication, enthusiasm, and respect that Vancouver Island residents demonstrate in teaching.

    This year's recipient is Dr. Kent Comeau.

    Victoria couple makes donation to improve care for patients with cognitive health issues

    Oct 12, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    A Victoria couple has pledged $2.5 million to improve care for patients with cognitive health issues.

    The generous donation, made by Neil and Susan Manning, kick-starts The Neil and Susan Manning Cognitive Health Initiative. The initiative features a partnership between Island Health, the University of Victoria, and the University of British Columbia, including UVic's Institute of Lifelong Health and UBC's Island Medical Program, and will aim to improve the diagnosis and treatment of dementia on Vancouver Island.

    For more information on the initiative, click here to read Island Health's news release.

    IMP promotes men's health and talks volunteer opportunities at annual Men's Health Day

    Oct 2, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    On Saturday, September 9, the UBC Island Medical Program (IMP) took part in Men’s Health Day, where members of the island's medical school – including two students, a volunteer patient, and a staff member – talked about men’s health while promoting the medical school’s important volunteer opportunities.

    The event featured a number of booths that offered free health assessments, consultations, and educational materials. The IMP’s booth focused on prostate health and included a hands-on, life-sized prostate model on which participants could conduct their own prostate exams and learn about various prostate pathologies.

    Ashely Ram, a second-year IMP student and one of the event volunteers, was pleased to see men of all ages attend the booth, but noted the ambivalence towards the model.

    “There was a combination of fear and humor,” she said. “Still, many participants were interested in learning and talking more about it – they asked us questions and shared their own prostate health stories, which was very interesting.”

    Men’s Health Day was also an excellent opportunity to highlight the IMP’s volunteer opportunities, which, according to Karen Basi, the IMP’s Volunteer Patient Coordinator, are critical to training medical students.

    “Students work with volunteers to learn clinical skills – how to build patient rapport, how to exercise patience and empathy, how to learn history taking and hands-on physical exams, and more” said Basi. “As volunteers, people can meaningfully contribute to the training of our next generation of physicians.”

    The IMP has several volunteer streams. These include Volunteer Patients, who participate as themselves, offering their real medical history, and who undergo non-invasive physical exams; and Standardized Patients, who are trained to simulate a certain pathology that students must diagnose. 

    For those who love to teach and are comfortable with their bodies, the IMP also offers Clinical Teaching Associate, or CTA, volunteer positions. There are two CTA variants, Female and Male Clinical Teaching Associates, and each guides students through gynecological and urogenitary exams, respectively.

    CTAs receive special training, and these sessions – like all clinical skills session – are supervised by a licensed physician, who shows students how to properly conduct the assessment.

    Most of the IMP’s volunteer opportunities have been around for a while, but last year marked the inauguration of Male Clinical Teaching Associates, otherwise known as MCTAs. Dr. Nathan Hoag, who graduated from the IMP in 2009 and now oversees these sessions, said that the first year was a “huge success.”

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


    Do you want to help train medical students? Then volunteer with the Island Medical Program. We’ll pay you to learn new skills and meaningfully contribute to medical students’ education. Check our opportunities here, under “Patient Programs”: https://imp.uvic.ca/community/index.php. You can also contact Karen Basi, the Volunteer Patient Coordinator, at karenpri@uvic.ca or 250-370-8111 ext. 12386.

    All clinical skills sessions take place at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Coronation Annex. Volunteer patients must be interested in interacting with medical students, and must be comfortable undergoing medical exams. Volunteers will be screened and, if selected, trained before their first teaching sessions.

    Dr. Fraser Black recognized for teaching excellence

    Sep 25, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    fbDr. Fraser Black, the IMP’s Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, is the recipient of the 2017 Dr. Bruce Crawford Award of Excellence.

    This annual award is voted on by third-year IMP students. It recognizes the teacher, preceptor, or tutor who’s made an impact on their first two years of medical training.

    “What a wonderful surprise,” said Dr. Black. “I’m deeply moved, especially as this award comes from the students themselves.”

    “I thought about the incredible teachers and mentors that have received the award before me – including, of course, Bruce Crawford himself – and feel honoured to be amongst that recipient group.”

    Dr. Black will be formally recognized at the IMP & DMS Teaching Awards Recognition Reception in December.

    IMP students to talk about sex in latest Let's Talk Science presentation

    Sep 19, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    lts: sex

    In the latest Let's Talk Science, IMP students will be talking about sex. Click here to see the poster.

    Did you know?

    • 1 in 2 sexually active people will contract an STI by the age of 25.
    • Many STIs do not have obvious symptoms.
    • Many women are opting for less effective birth control. What options are available? What type of contraception is right for you?
    • Men are now able to get the HPV vaccine.

    Join second-year UBC Island Medical Program students Amy Kim, Laila Drabkin, Kaity Lalonde, and Brianna Crighton in an open conversation. We’ll discuss different STIs and how to protect yourself, contraceptive methods, and more. Let’s talk about sex!

    Time: 6:00 to 8:00pm
    When: Thursday, October 12
    Where: UVic, Medical Sciences Building, Room 150

    This presentation is free and open to everyone.

    Gairdner Foundation to host October event

    Sep 7, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    The Gairdner Foundation National Program is hosting a event on Monday, October 23, 3:30pm to 6:00pm. This event requires RSVP to attend.

    The event will take place at the University of British Columbia, but will be shared via video-conference at UVic in the Medical Sciences Building, Room 160.

    For more information on the event, including RSVP, click here for the poster. Below is a brief biography on the attending speakers.

    Dr. Huda Zoghbi
    2017 Canada Gairdner International Award Recipient
    Professor, Baylor College of Medicine; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

    Dr. Zoghbi is the founding Director of the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital. Zoghbi’s interest is in understanding healthy brain development as well as what goes awry in specific neurological conditions. She has published seminal work on the cause and pathogenesis of Rett syndrome and late-onset neurodegenerative diseases, and has trained many scientists and physician-scientists. Dr. Zoghbi received numerous honors including election to the National Academy of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences.

    Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou
    2016 Canada Gairdner International Award Recipient
    Associate Professor, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University

    Dr Barrangou is the T. R. Klaenhammer Distinguished Scholar in Probiotics Research and an Associate Professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University, focusing on the evolution and functions of CRISPR-Cas systems, and their applications in bacteria used in food manufacturing. Recently, Rodolphe received the 2016 Warren Alpert Prize, the 2016 Canada Gairdner International Award, and the 2017 NAS award in Molecular Biology. Dr. Barrangou is also affiliated with Caribou Biosciences, Intellia Therapeutics, and Locus Biosciences.

    Register for faculty development workshops with Dr. Lorelei Lingard, an internationally acclaimed Medical Education Researcher

    Aug 30, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Dr. Sarah Buydens, the IMP’s Regional Director for Faculty Development, is thrilled to have Dr. Lorelei Lingard, an internationally acclaimed Medical Education Researcher, come to the IMP to run hands-on workshops in both Nanaimo and Victoria. These will run September 22 and 23.

    As always, these workshops are open to all undergraduate and postgraduate faculty on Vancouver Island. Each workshop offers a unique learning opportunity, so attend as many as you can.

    See below for more info. Click here for the poster, which includes descriptions of each workshop.

    Click here to see our other upcoming Faculty Development workshops.

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    Did you know? We apply for accreditation for all of our courses, meaning you can claim CME credits.

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    Workshop 1: Truths and Myths About Teams and Their Implications for How We Understand Competence in Healthcare.

    When: Friday, September 22
    Time: Lunch: 1:00pm – 1:30pm; Presentation: 1:30pm – 3:30pm
    Where: Vancouver Island Convention Centre; Nanaimo, BC

    Register Now!

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    Workshop 2: The Many Faces of Clinical Supervision

    When: Saturday, September 23
    Time: Breakfast: 8:30am – 9:00am; Presentation: 9:00am – 9:45am; Concept Application: 10:00am – 12:00pm
    Where: University Club, University of Victoria; Victoria, BC

    Register Now!

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    Workshop 3: Are We Training for Collective Incompetence? Three Common Education Assumptions and Their Unintended Impact on Healthcare Teamwork

    When: Saturday, September 23
    Time: Lunch: 12:00pm – 12:45pm; Presentation: 1:00pm – 1:45pm; Concept Application: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
    Where: University Club, University of Victoria; Victoria, BC

    Register Now!

    Meet the IMP Class of 2021

    Aug 28, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    Join us in welcoming the new IMP Class of 2021 to the Faculty of Medicine!

    We connected with a few members of our new cohort to learn more about them -- see below.

    To read more student profiles and to check out some of the Faculty of Medicine's back-to-school highlights, check out the Faculty's Back to School website.

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    Name: Karol Boschung
    Hometown: Burnaby, BC


    What inspired you to pursue your program?

    My grandfather was a family physician in rural Saskatchewan and on Vancouver Island, and his stories always fascinated me. After I graduated with a BA in Philosophy, I was looking for something I could do that would be challenging, engaging, and allow me to have close contact with people. Medicine was certainly not my original plan, but thinking of his stories, as well as reflecting on my own experience with my wonderfully competent and compassionate family doctor, made me think that med school might be something worth pursuing. After a bit of research, I realized, much to my surprise, that med school wasn’t just for people with a BSc. Thereafter, I found myself thinking about it more and more. Just over two years ago, I decided to apply, and the rest is history!

    What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?

    It’s hard to pick out any particular thing that I am most looking forward to. Overall, I am excited to turn something, which has seemed abstract and remote for a long while, into a concrete reality. I am excited for encounters with real flesh-and-blood patients. I am ready to dive deeply into the complexities of the human body: there is so much to learn, and interesting new things are seemingly discovered almost daily.

    What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?

    My name is pronounced “Karl”, and not “Carol” – despite me not having any Polish heritage at all, my parents saddled me with a Polish name that has been mispronounced by approximately every person ever to meet me. It’s not like I’m bitter about it or anything...

    Best piece of advice:

    Don’t give advice unless you know what you’re talking about!

    What superpower do you wish you had?

    I’ve given this question a somewhat embarrassing amount of thought over the years, to be honest (*Nerd alert!*). If I had to pick just one superpower, it would likely be telekinesis. Used properly, you could do almost anything – fly, protect yourself and others, and in general go about your life in a pretty spectacular way.

    Where in the world would you like to get lost?

    Anywhere with a where there is a surfeit of delicious food, good wine, and friendly people to share it with.

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    Name: Madelaine Beckett
    Hometown: Maple Ridge, BC 


    What inspired you to pursue your program?

    I love the flexibility of a career as an MD that allows opportunities for both research and face-to-face patient interaction.

    What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?

    Aside from studying medicine? Moving to Victoria. My mum’s family are from Vancouver Island and I spent most of my summers on the island as a kid, so I’m excited to be living there full time.

    What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?

    I had a speech impediment until I was eight years old.

    Best piece of advice:

    Just keep swimming.

    What superpower do you wish you had?

    The ability to speak and understand every language.

    Where in the world would you like to get lost?


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    Name: Natasha Young
    Hometown: Terrace, BC


    What inspired you to pursue your program?

    Many, many things have inspired me to pursue medicine. The excellent, attentive, kind, and incredibly smart physicians I have encountered over the years, including, while growing up, my family physician. My mother, who didn’t have the means to pursue a professional career but worked so hard to ensure that I would. All the scientists who came before me who had the courage to question, to innovate, and to effect change. I have been inspired to show my daughters that hard work can pay off, that investing in yourself is important, that it feels great to reach for the top.

    What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?

    The novelty feels exhilarating to me. Discovering new places, new faces, and what I expect will be an intense learning environment. I am so excited to work alongside people who want to excel.

    What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?

    That I use to dream of being a track and field star, or a ballerina.

    Best piece of advice:

    Keep it simple.

    What superpower do you wish you had?

    To be able to fly, or at least the ability to drive as fast as I want without getting a ticket.

    Where in the world would you like to get lost?

    In the forest, when the berries are ripe.

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    Name: Tanner Lohr
    Hometown: White Rock, BC


    What inspired you to pursue your program?

    My inspiration to pursue medicine was two-fold: first, I have a fierce curiosity for science and the science of the human body; and second, and perhaps most important, I have a deep desire to help those who are suffering, and to help people regain the ability to live life to the fullest.

    What are you looking forward to most this upcoming year?

    Everything! From the science to the practice, every part of my medical school education is exciting to me.

    What’s one thing we might be surprised to learn about you?

    I used to play in a Beatles tribute band and can probably recite the lyrics to most of their songs!

    Best piece of advice:

    Never give up on your goals and aspirations. Medicine seemed like an impossible goal for most of my life, but here I am.

    What superpower do you wish you had?

    The ability to cure all disease.

    Where in the world would you like to get lost?

    France – it would make me practice my French more.

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    Name: Sajad Niyyati


    Check Sajad's profile on the UBC MD Undergraduate Program Back to School series website.

    The IMP needs volunteers to help train medical students

    Aug 22, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    What advice do you have for men regarding prostate health?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Interim Assistant Dean, Curriculum, of the UBC Faculty of Medicine offers faculty development workshop

    Jul 27, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah

    On June 12, Dr. Cheryl Holmes, the Interim Assistant Dean, Curriculum, for the UBC MD Undergraduate Program, visited the Island Medical Program to give a faculty development workshop.

    Fifteen IMP faculty took part in the workshop, called “Exploring the Hidden Curriculum – We Are Teaching Far More Than We Know,” which explored how a teacher’s behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes all shape a student’s learning experience.

    Earlier that day, Holmes met with IMP administrators to discuss the MD Undergraduate Program’s curriculum; talked with students about their learning experiences; then joined Kurt McBurney, Assistant Teaching Professor, for a tour of UVic’s Medical Sciences Building.


    Are you an IMP faculty member or resident? Throughout the year, Faculty Development provides a variety of workshop opportunities to IMP faculty to enrich your skills. Dr. Sarah Buydens, the IMP’s Regional Director of Faculty Development, encourages you to contact Nicole Coutts, Faculty Development Support, at facdev@uvic.ca to learn more, and to get involved.

    Aboriginal high school students visit the Island Medical Program

    Jul 26, 2017 | Posted by: Rhys Mahannah


    In the middle of a hot week in July, the University of Victoria eagerly met with the next generation of Aboriginal university students – and, possibly, some future members of the UBC Island Medical Program.

    Every year, the UVic Indigenous Mini-University Summer Camp, otherwise known as MiniU, invites BC Aboriginal youth from grades eight to twelve to UVic’s campus, where they learn more about what post-secondary education can offer them.

    “We have Aboriginal students from all walks of life,” said Ricky-Lee Watts, who’s worked as a MiniU chaperone for the last four years. “Some students are confident about going to university; others aren’t interested. Some don’t think about it – they don’t believe they can make it. We want to show the students that, if they’re determined, they can get into, and succeed in, university.”

    On Tuesday, July 11, the students gathered in the First Peoples House, on UVic’s campus, for a career fair-style event. Here, they talked with faculty, staff, and students from various university programs, including the Island Medical Program.

    The next morning, the students stopped by UVic’s Medical Sciences Building, where first- and second-year IMP students spend the bulk of their time. Kurt McBurney, an IMP Assistant Teaching Professor, took the MiniU group upstairs to see a state-of-the-art multi-purpose lab, where they also got some hands-on time with, and learned more about, the human skeleton.

    Then they joined Rhys Mahannah, the IMP’s Admissions and Communications Coordinator, for a presentation about the UBC MD Undergraduate Program – including its requirements and an overview of its curriculum – in one of the MSB’s high-tech lecture halls.

    Mahannah presented on behalf of James Andrew, the Aboriginal Student Initiatives Coordinator for the UBC Faculty of Medicine. Andrew travels across BC and Canada to connect with Aboriginal students, introduce them to the MD Undergraduate Program through workshops, events, and presentations.

    While he wasn’t able to present at this year’s event, Andrew did talk about the lack of Aboriginal doctors in Canada, and why it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

    “Of all the doctors in Canada, only 300 are Aboriginal, which is less than 1%,” said Andrews. “BC First Nations need Aboriginal doctors who can meld medical knowledge with the social and cultural knowledge of their communities. This is crucial to providing quality care.”

    BC and Canada still have a long way to go to address this shortage, said Andrew. But the UBC Faculty of Medicine is committed to increasing the number of Aboriginal doctors.

    “The Faculty is very proud of its Aboriginal program,” said Andrew. “It’s considered, across the country, to be a leading institution in recruiting and supporting Aboriginal medical students.”

    One eager future med student is Bryna LaPlonte, a MiniU participant from Abbotsford, BC, who’s heading into grade twelve. LaPlonte figured she’d have to go to McGill or UBC to achieve her dream of becoming a pediatrician. Then she learned she could get an MD with the Island Medical Program, which delivers the UBC MD Undergraduate Program in partnership with UVic.

    After I found that out, at the career fair, I had to text my mom,” said LaPlonte. “I told her, ‘I found my school. I know where I’m going to university!’”

    “It was amazing to discover that I could study medicine at UVic,” continued LaPlonte, whose first choice for her undergraduate degree is UVic. “It’s so great to know that I can study what I want in a place – Vancouver Island – that I love.”


    As of 2017, the UBC MD Undergraduate Program has graduated 71 Aboriginal doctors. UBC originally set a goal, in 2002, to graduate 50 Aboriginal students by 2020. That goal was reached in May 2015 – five years ahead of schedule. Learn more about this important milestone at: http://www.med.ubc.ca/ubc-aboriginal-md-program-meets-goal-five-years-ahead-of-schedule/

    Waheeda Esmail joins the IMP as new Regional Administrative Director

    Jul 4, 2017 | Posted by: Joy Kirstin & Rhys Mahannah

    We are pleased to welcome Waheeda Esmail as the new Regional Administrative Director for the Island Medical Program. Waheeda took over for Lianne Peterson, who retired on June 30, 2017.

    Waheeda joins us from the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University, where she most recently held the position of Associate Director of Administration. In this role, she implemented and led a shared service centre that oversaw the Human Resources, Finance, and Student Affairs administration for three clinical departments. She has extensive experience in financial management, strategic planning, change management communications, research administration, and project management.

    We recently connected with Waheeda to learn a little more about her.

    How did you first become interested in medical administration?

    Throughout my university education, I worked in the financial sector to fund my educational pursuits. After completing a Masters in Religious Studies, I sought employment in the public sector, as it became increasingly important to me to pursue a career that was in line with my values of service to the community. I decided to work in higher education, because I simply loved the energy of the university environment. The Faculty of Medicine at McGill took a chance on me, so to speak, and there I joined a community of smart and dedicated individuals working towards common goals within a complex environment. As it turned out, a career in medical administration had just the right workplace dynamic to keep me engaged and stimulated!

    Are there any specific professional experiences in particular that you’ll draw from as you begin your work with IMP?

    There are many areas of my past I expect to draw from. While at McGill, I worked for nine departments in the Faculty of Medicine (Pathology; Anatomy and Cell Biology; Oncology; Surgery; Anesthesia; Otolaryngology; Pediatrics; Obstetrics and Gynecology; and Pediatric Surgery). Specifically, I oversaw their human resources and financial administration, academic affairs, and the administration of medical education. In addition to this work experience, I hold a Chartered Professional of Human Resources designation and use my knowledge of HR best practices to lead teams. I have also been active in the non-profit sector, where, as an elected board member, I’ve focused on questions surrounding governance and decision-making processes. I believe that the above coupled with my 18 years of experience in client service will serve me well in my role here at the IMP.

    What excites you about IMP, and what do you look forward to strengthening in the program?

    The distributed learning model, the partnership with the various institutions, and our own Division of Medical Science are all areas that I find exciting about the IMP. I look forward to learning how they all function and how my role and those of my team can help each area achieve its strategic goals. One thing that can always be strengthened in any work environment is relationships. The IMP already possesses an excellent team of energetic and dedicated individuals, and I hope to contribute to the positive work environment that has already been established here.

    You’ve been described as having a synergistic and collaborative working style. What can IMP colleagues expect?

    I believe the people who know the work best are the people who actually do the work! As a result, I want to hear from our administrative specialists on what works and what doesn’t and how we can improve the administration together.

    Do you have any hobbies or interest you’d like to share?

    Well I am a complete sci-fi nerd, so I welcome all references to things like Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc.

    Is there anything else you’d like to add or share from a professional or personal standpoint?

    Only to say that I am absolutely thrilled to join you at the IMP and Division of Medical Sciences, and that the welcome I have received has been truly wonderful. I would like to thank Lianne especially for all the work and preparation she has put into orienting me these past few weeks. Though our feet may be of similar size, I apparently need to buy 70+ pairs of shoes to fill!

    The IMP welcomes the new Executive Assistant to the Regional Associate Dean

    Jul 25, 2017 | Posted by: Joy Kirstin & Rhys Mahannah

    kpWe are pleased to introduce Kyla Patterson as the new Executive Assistant to Dr. Bruce Wright, Regional Associate Dean, IMP and Head, DMS.

    Kyla comes to us from the UVic Faculty of Law, where she has worked for the past three years as the Law Careers Assistant. Kyla also has experience as the Office Manager for a busy chiropractor in Victoria, and as a Teaching Assistant with the UVic Geography department.

    We reached out to Kyla to find out a little bit more about her.

    It looks like you've had an interesting work history: Law faculty, chiropractic office, teaching assistant. How has each of those experiences helped you hone your skills?

    I view learning as a lifelong endeavor, and am driven to develop and master new skill-sets. Having work experience in a variety of fields has allowed me to hone my skills in managing information, commitment to quality, project and task management, communication, and teamwork. In my roles as the Law Careers Assistant and as the office manager for Progressive Chiropractic, I worked to create and maintain respectful and friendly working relationships with the students and patients, as well as positive and cooperative team dynamics with the Law Careers Officer and chiropractor, respectively.

    What kind of teaching were you involved in?

    As a teaching assistant for undergraduate geography courses, I independently instructed and graded the laboratory components for surveying and remote sensing classes.

    What are you looking forward to at the IMP?

    As the daughter of a General Practitioner, a former office manager of a chiropractor, and a former athlete having sustained long-term injuries, I have an innate passion for working in a medically related career. I look forward to being a part of the collaborative and friendly environment of the Island Medical Program, and contributing to the high caliber of service that the program provides to its students.

    What would you like to share about yourself - hobbies/interests, or any interesting stories that tell us more about who you are?

    I love to hike, travel and explore! I've been very fortunate to visit many countries in Europe and South America, as well as having helicoptered into the remote back country of beautiful British Columbia while helping with glacier research. I also enjoy indoor time playing strategic board games, watching movies, and cuddling with my cat.


    Kyla is replacing Katie Gerritsen, who will be moving over to fill Claire Abanto’s shoes as part-time Executive Assistant to Waheeda Esmail, Administrative Director, IMP, and Dr. Laura Farrell, Assistant Dean, Undergraduate Program, IMP. Claire will be leaving for Maternity Leave on July 26 (or maybe sooner!) Alisha Lemmen, who job-shares the Executive Assistant position with Claire/Katie, will be continuing in her role.

    Innovative MSK clinic welcomes third-year IMP students for orthopedic rotations

    Jul 6, 2017 | Posted by: Joy Kirstin & Rhys Mahannah

    The Island Medical Program (IMP) is pleased to announce that orthopedic rotations for third-year students are now taking place at Rebalance MD, Victoria’s primary musculoskeletal clinic.

    Introducing Rebalance MD

    Rebalance features a wide range of musculoskeletal (MSK) specialists who work out of a single clinical site, facilitating greater collaboration between different kinds of healthcare disciplines. Indeed, all of Victoria’s 18 orthopedic surgeons work here, as do eight sport medicine physicians, three physiatrists (rehabilitation medicine specialists), and 11 physiotherapists. Ancillary services such as splinting, bracing, orthotics, and diagnostic imaging are also on site; the clinic even coordinates visits from other health professionals for consults and workshops.

    Since opening its doors in 2013, Rebalance has played a key role in revolutionizing MSK care in Victoria. It has dramatically reduced referral times (from an average of 40 weeks to eight weeks); increased patient accessibility and quality of care; and streamlined every step of the diagnostic, treatment, and recovery process for both surgical and non-surgical cases. Most of the area’s patients who are referred for MSK care go to Rebalance.


    Helping Train Tomorrow’s Doctors

    At Rebalance, third-year IMP students work with a multidisciplinary healthcare team to treat patients for a wide range of MSK injuries and conditions, helping to provide patients with easy access to the right type and level of care for their condition.

    “These orthopedic rotations are quite unique, in that they provide students with a wide exposure to an integrated system of care for MSK problems,” says Dr. Laura Farrell, Assistant Dean of the IMP. “Not only do they learn from orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine physicians, but students also work with physiotherapists and physiatrists to understand their roles in the diagnosis and management of MSK issues. In addition, they spend time with Rebalance’s “Joint Program Navigators,” who guide hip and knee-replacement patients through the treatment process, including preparation for surgery and post-operative rehabilitation.”

    In addition to time spent at the Rebalance clinic location, students visit Royal Jubilee or Victoria General Hospitals to assist in an operating room during surgical procedures, and to rotate through the Cast Clinic.

    Rebalance is no stranger to student education. For years, it has hosted IMP fourth-year students for electives, and has provided training and co-op placements for students from a variety of other UVic disciplines, such as Bioengineering, Kinesiology, and Health Informatics. The clinic has also participated in medical residencies and fellowships in response to requests from UBC and other post-graduates from across the country.

    “We are excited about the possibilities for education and health innovation that will come from this new working relationship with the Island Medical Program,” says Rebalance CEO, Stefan Fletcher. “We believe that our collaborative, patient-centric model is a good example of what’s possible for the future of health care.”

    Right Person, Right Place, Right Time

    Rebalance MD’s cheery 14,500 square foot clinic in Saanich’s Uptown Centre provides a full range of musculoskeletal outpatient services for both surgical and non-operative conditions.

    One of the things that sets Rebalance apart from other multidisciplinary clinics is that there is no “pay-to-play”. Their service model was designed by physicians and specialists in close communication with Island Health, the Ministry of Health, and primary care providers – ensuring that the treatment model works as efficiently and effectively as possible within the broader health system.

    Reduced Referral Times

    Rebalance’s FAAST referral model (First Available Specialist Triage) has cut referral times from an average of 40 weeks to eight weeks. It ensures that patients are quickly directed to the most appropriate specialist for their condition. FAAST provides:

    • a single point of entry for all musculoskeletal referrals (previously, there were five)
    • a standardized referral template, developed in conjunction with primary care providers
    • standardized x-ray views which have been adopted across the system.

    The Scrum Room

    One of the key spaces at Rebalance is the Scrum Room. Here, musculoskeletal physicians and other professionals have work stations in a conference room, allowing them to quickly discuss and gather second opinions on complicated cases.

    Joint Program Navigators

    Five “navigators” (four nurses and a physiotherapist) work out of a different part of the clinic, liaising with hip and knee replacement patients to guide them through each step of pre- and post-operative care and rehabilitation. The navigators help patients understand the process and ensure that all appropriate consultations and ancillary services are scheduled in a timely fashion.

    The IMP unveils a new volunteer patient program

    Jul 4, 2017 | Posted by: Joy Kirstin & Rhys Mahannah

    Starting in January 2018, the Island Medical Program (IMP) will pilot a new 11-month patient program that pairs medical students with members of the community who are living with a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, hypertension, or inflammatory bowel disease.

    The initiative, called the First Patient Program (FPtP), will give students a longitudinal understanding of their First Patient’s experience – that is, how a chronic condition affects the patient over time, including their social, mental, and emotional well-being.

    The First Patient Program will join the IMP’s roster of other well-established clinical skills and family practice clinical sessions, designed for Year 1 and 2 students. These include face-to-face time with volunteer patients, standardized patients, clinical teaching associates, and clinical experience in family practice settings with Family Practice preceptors.


    Increasing Self-Awareness and Developing Empathy

    The IMP’s First Patient Program, modeled after the First Patient Program at Queen’s University School of Medicine, integrates medical students into the lives of their patients. This first-hand experiential training – which focuses on melding a personal and professional approach to long-term care – leads to more self-aware, empathetic, and effective doctors.

    How does the program work? In their January semester, two first-year students are paired with one volunteer patient, the First Patient. Besides a short summer break, students will work with their patient for 11 months, until December of their second year.

    During this time, students will connect with their patient at least five times. In addition to an at-home consultation, students will also accompany their patient to two primary physician appointments and, at a minimum, two other medically relevant appointments.

    Students will become familiar with their patient’s medical history, document the patient’s story and circumstances, and research the patient’s experience with chronic issues. As a result, students will better understand the psychosocial, family, cultural, and religious issues that may affect the patient’s situation. The patient’s primary physician, known as a First Patient Physician, will provide guidance throughout the 11-month period and review the students’ assignments.

    First Patient Physician Involvement

    If you are a physician (family practice or other specialty) with patients who may be interested in becoming First Patients, or if you would like to apply to be a First Patient Physician, please contact Karen Basi, the IMP’s Patient Programs Coordinator, at karenpri@uvic.ca or 250-370-8111 ext. 12386.