Region getting rural doctor training

Doctors training in Trail will mean more doctors practicing in the area.

  • Sep. 11, 2014 8:00 p.m.

Liz Bevan

Castlegar News


Doctors training in Trail will mean more doctors practicing in the area according to a new plan from the University of British Columbia.

Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) is the newest addition to the short list of hospitals offering rural residency post graduate opportunities for family practice medical students in the province.

Dr. Cheryl Hume, site director for the residency program, says training family practitioners in a rural community is designed to encourage newly licensed physicians to settle down and start up a practice in that same community.

“The addition of a family practice residency program will further compliment and enhance our capacity to train future physicians and will further enhance physician presence in rural areas,” she said, during a press conference at KBRH on Monday. “It will also allow them the gratifying experience of what it is like to practice family medicine in rural areas. We are very pleased to be part of this and hopefully we will see many young physicians returning to our area to provide care.

“It will have a major impact on stabilizing future physician recruitment and retention and thereby enhancing patient care and increasing physician access in West Kootenay.”

UBC Residency Program Director, Dr. Willa Henry, was in attendance at the press conference and spoke about the importance of a program that trains doctors to be rural general practitioners.

“There are a few things that we know at UBC and one of them is that we need more rural doctors,” she said. “The Department of Family Practice (at UBC) takes the social responsibility of that very seriously. We know that the people who learn in the context ofthe communities who need doctors are best prepared to work in those communities.”

UBC chose KBRH as the sixth location for the two-year rural residency program after much deliberation and input from surrounding communities.

“When we came to this region to find a community which we felt would be well suited to meet the demands of the expanding ministry, we were overwhelmed by the engagement here,” she said. “We have no doubt that this is going to be a very successful site. We are also excited about what this will mean for your community.”

Dr. Scot Mountain, a specialist and trainer for third-year medical students at KBRH says the program is a great addition to the hospital, trainers and students.

“From the (student) perspective, they get one-on-one interactions with patients which is not available in the bigger centres,” he said. “When you train in the city, there are multiple trainees that you have to stand behind while something interesting is going on. Here, they are frontline from day one and they are learning things that would take a lot longer if they were in the city.”

It isn’t only post graduate medical students that benefit from the rural residency program, but also the trainers.

“It enriches our practice,” said Dr. Mountain. “It forces us to be on top of our game and know what we are doing by making sure that we are up-to-date. It also gives us a chance to interact with our patients in a completely different and new way. It gives us a fresh set of eyes that we can see the patients through.”

The program starts at KBRH with the first batch of UBC medical students starting the two-year program in July 2015.