Premier Christy Clark officially opened the home of the Southern Medical Program that will see doctors completing their medical training for the first time in the Okanagan.
“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 Premier 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’s Okanagan campus was constructed with a $32.7-million investment by the B.C. government. It accommodates 128 medical students, and once it reaches full capacity, will bring the total number of medical students in the province to 1,152 — more than doubling the number of spaces in the province in a decade.
“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. “In addition to the Northern Medical Program in partnership with UNBC and the Island Medical Program in partnership with UVic, UBC’s distributed medical education program is resulting in more doctors practising, in all of the regions of British Columbia.”
“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.”
“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,” Dr. Gavin Stuart, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Vice Provost Health, 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.”
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 Dr. 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.”
Robyn Buna, a second-year student in the SMP, said, “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.
Deborah Buszard, deputy vice-chancellor and principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus 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 Reichwald Health Sciences Centre features a green roof and several strategies for energy and water conservation.
- Students will divide their study and classroom time between the new Health Sciences Centre at UBC’s Okanagan campus for academic courses and the Clinical Academic Campus, next to Kelowna General Hospital, for clinical skills training.
- The SMP clinical training is delivered at Kelowna General Hospital, Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail, and other hospitals and health centres in 22 Interior communities.