Province announces education improvements for University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

The Province is moving ahead with planning for improvements to education facilities to support medical training at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia (UHNBC), as part of Budget 2012.

The improvements include a library and lecture space to enable small- and large-group learning for students and residents in the Northern Medical Program, a partnership created by the UBC Faculty of Medicine and the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) to better meet the health-care needs of northern and rural British Columbians.

The project also includes additional wireless network and videoconferencing technology that connect the hospital’s students, residents and staff with instructors and fellow trainees throughout the province.

“It’s important for medical students and staff in the Northern Medical Program to be able to have easily accessible facilities,” said Minister of Health Michael de Jong. “That’s why the Province is planning to improve the education facility for the medical school at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia.”

The initial cost estimate is up to $10 million, with the final number to be determined once the business plan and tendering process are finalized.

The 128 undergraduate medical students in UBC’s Northern Medical Program spend most of their time in Prince George, at both UNBC and UHNBC. In addition, 30 residents in various specialties are based at the hospital year-round, along with several visiting residents from Vancouver-based specialty programs.

“Having suitable teaching and library facilities at UHNBC ensures that our students and residents in Prince George receive the same high level of education as their classmates and colleagues throughout the province,” said Gavin Stuart, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. “The UBC Faculty of Medicine is pleased that the provincial government is investing in their training.”

“Having a new state-of-the art medical education facility is important for the North,” said Northern Health Authority president and chief executive officer Cathy Ulrich. “Northern Health would like to thank the provincial government for announcing that a new facility will be planned.”

In March 2002, government announced an expansion and distribution of the UBC medical school. In addition to the Northern Medical Program, there are distributed medical programs on Vancouver Island (Island Medical Program), the Southern Interior region (Southern Medical Program) and the Lower Mainland (Vancouver-Fraser Medical Program).

Medical students in the distributed programs spend their first semester at UBC in Vancouver and complete their undergraduate education at academic campuses, hospitals and clinics throughout the province. All graduates receive a medical degree from UBC.