Premier Christy Clark opened the new home of the Southern Medical Program Sept. 20 meaning, for the first time, will see doctors completing their medical training in the Okanagan thus benefiting B.C. students and families.
“Our government is focused on investing and expanding post-secondary programs to educate health care professionals so that all families all across B.C. have access to quality health care,” said Clark.
“Students tend to practice where they’re trained, and now student doctors can complete their entire medical undergraduate program right here in the Okanagan.”
The Reichwald Health Sciences Centre at UBC Okanagan was constructed with a $32.7-million investment by the B.C. government.
It accommodates 32 first-year medical students, bringing the number of first-year medical students in the province to 288, more than doubling the number of spaces since 2001.
“With the start of the Southern Medical Program at UBC’s Okanagan campus, we’ve more than doubled the number of first-year spaces for student doctors in B.C.,” said John Yap, Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology.
“The UBC faculty of medicine’s Southern Medical Program, housed in the beautiful Reichwald Health Sciences Centre, is teaching students using the best technology and learning resources available,” said UBC president Stephen Toope.
“Just as importantly, it will enable collaborative learning and interdisciplinary teaching opportunities for all of the health sciences.”
Deborah Buszard, deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC Okanagan, said, “This innovative and purpose-built facility provides state-of-the-art teaching and research space for our faculty and students studying in the Southern Medical Program and the school of health and exercise sciences, and will ultimately enable them to make meaningful contributions to the health and medical fields.”
The 4,266-square-metre facility includes high-tech classrooms and lecture theatres networked with the other three medical program locations in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George.
It also includes small-group teaching rooms, teaching and research labs, administration and faculty offices and a human kinetics lab, part of the school of health and exercise sciences.
“The journey to becoming a doctor is an incredible one and I wish students and facility members alike every success in what is bound to be an exciting future,” said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.
“Increasing the number of B.C. educated doctors through the expansion and distribution of UBC’s medical school is one of the ways we are ensuring there are sufficient physicians across the province to provide quality patient care,” she said.
“This stunning building is the culmination of the province’s commitment to ensuring that all parts of British Columbia share in the tremendous bounty of talent and ambition that flourishes in the province,” said Dr. Gavin Stuart, dean, UBC faculty of medicine and vice provost for health at UBC.
“The UBC faculty of medicine is proud to be part of that effort—through the learning taking place within these walls, and the knowledge that students will take with them as health professionals to surrounding communities.”
Robyn Buna, a KSS grad who obtained her undergraduate degree at SFU, is happy to be studying for her medical degree in her hometown.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to complete my medical education in the Interior. It’s exciting to be a part of a new program and to learn alongside a medical community that is truly enthusiastic about teaching students.”
As part of UBC faculty of medicine’s distributed medical doctor (MD) undergraduate program, SMP students will spend the balance of the four-year MD program studying and training in communities throughout the B.C. Interior, having spent their first term in classes in Vancouver.