Prince George

Site Director Message

After ten years of relentless negotiation, the Prince George site for UBC Family Practice Residency opened in 1995, the brain child of an exceptional family physician, Galt Wilson. Galt saw a great opportunity to use the untapped resources here to train excellent, independent, full service family physicians with the intention of helping to solve the perennial problem of recruitment of physicians to small communities in general, the north specifically.

In 1995, we started out in a dedicated building across the parking lot from the hospital, housing six teaching practices with ten full service family docs as preceptors. Many of our specialty colleagues had to be convinced to see the benefits of taking on learners! Since then, the program has matured and evolved to include eighteen preceptors (eleven graduates from here!) and has spilled into four community offices with another eight preceptors. All divide their time between Family Medicine and other interests such as Emergency, Obstetrics, Palliative Care, Geriatrics, Admin, Aboriginal Health, teaching, transgender health and Hepatitis C. Our Specialist colleagues now are concerned when there is no learner available. Further evolution occurred with the opening of the Northern Medical Program, providing opportunities for our Residents as teachers as well as a little more competition for clinical exposure. And still further evolution has taken place with our expansion in 2014 to include four IMGs yearly. And there still is more than enough clinical material to go around!

Prince George remains an ideal location to be exposed to Family Medicine as the fulfilling career it can be. As two of our grads have discovered after numerous locums elsewhere, “there is no place like Prince George”. The medical community is exceptionally collegial and supportive. The Division of Family Practice continues Dr. Wilson’s innovative thinking, and is very active, searching out ways for Family Physicians to practice better and more efficiently. EMR’s are universal at our site, using the program developed by one of our Family Physicians, Bill Clifford, and rated as one of the top three in the country. Most of our Family Physicians are involved with care of their patients in hospital, we have no hospitalists. Uncomplicated deliveries are done by Family Physicians. Emergency is staffed by Family Physicians.

The cost of living in Prince George is very reasonable. Rental housing is readily available with many of our Residents living within walking distance. Traffic is rarely an issue with driving times usually less than fifteen minutes.

Recreational opportunities abound, with the full range of summer and winter outdoor activities. There are also opportunities for participation or entertainment in theatre, music, art and dance. One of our R2’s in 2012 sang a lead role in a French opera!

As you probably have deduced by now, I believe Prince George and our program specifically has much to offer the Resident who is interested in hands on hard work with the goal of becoming an excellent, independent, full service, fulfilled Family Physician who can practice competently anywhere.

If you are interested, please come check us out at our open house, or email our Chief Residents at pg.fm.chiefs@gmail.com or myself at susan.knoll@unbc.ca.

I hope to chat with you soon!

Dr. Susan Knoll MD, CCFP, FCFP
Susan.Knoll@unbc.ca

Chief Resident Message

Prince George and the rural family medicine sites offer great opportunities for residents to train and apply their learned skills with patients. This site focuses on full scope medicine, allowing residents to gain knowledge and skills in multi-facets of medicine. A typical day of a resident could be started conducting rounds in hospital, then attending your family clinic, and making a house call or two before delivering a baby. What is unique about this site is that you will have that opportunity to lead patient care as the resident and will be relied upon to make significant decisions. There are also plenty of teaching opportunities from 3rd and 4th year clinical clerks working along side you in the hospital to clinical courses for 1st and 2nd year medical students.

As with any site there are challenges, however, it brings a unique practice, which you may not find in other sites. Prince George family practice is truly full service, with family doctors being relied heavily upon to maintain the local healthcare system. As a result residents may feel they are being “thrown into the fire”, however, this challenge brings with itself an opportunity to gain skills and knowledge, which may not be available at any other site. For instance during your surgical rotation it is not uncommon for a family resident to be the first assist on cases. It is opportunities like this, that allow residents from our site to feel competent and comfortable practicing medicine wherever the future takes them.

The site promotes a family environment for fellow residents to get together on a weekly basis and embrace each other’s experiences. The ability to share your challenges, achievements and experiences can help with this sometimes, difficult journey. This also helps promote a strong resident group and friendships that will last long after residency ends.

Prince George is considered the Capital of the North, this large city offers picturesque wilderness and outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, golf and camping.   Prince George is the largest northern center for healthcare, inclusive of surrounding regions, servicing approximately 320,000 people. The University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) is northern BC’s largest state of the art healthcare facility. Local organizations help set Prince George apart in the healthcare and social assistance sectors through their leadership and innovation in the delivery of healthcare services.

This program incorporates the best practices of rural and remote medical education from around the world, providing outstanding exposure to direct care to patients. Through its collaboration with northern communities, and Northern Health, the program utilizes various acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, community health centers and public health unit to ensure residents in Prince George are ready to take on any challenge their future in family practice hands them!

If you have any further questions about the program, feel free to contact us by e-mail

Drs Taya O’Neill and Harvir Dhillon

pg.fm.chiefs@gmail.com

Number of Residents: 8 CMG, 4 IMG, and 3 Northern Rural
Location: Prince George, BC
Community: 80,000
Hospital: The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

Curriculum Type: Block
R2 Elective Time: 12 Weeks
Phone: 250-565-2599
Contact: Director – Dr. Susan Knoll – Susan.Knoll@unbc.ca / Coordinator – Lisa Lakusta – lisa.lakusta@unbc.ca
Chief Residents:  Taya O’Neill-Haugland and Harvir Dhillon – pg.fm.chiefs@gmail.com

Overview

Lakes and rivers abound with opportunities to kayak, canoe, fish or swim. There is an extensive network of trails for running and mountain biking. Winter activities include a range from cross country skiing, hockey and speed skating. The surrounding area affords easy access to the mountains for camping, backpacking or backcountry skiing. Prince George is home to the Cougars (a Junior A hockey team), a symphony and an excellent semi-professional theater. The beautiful University of Northern British Columbia opened its’ Northern Medical Program in 2004 and graduated its first class in 2008.

Program Highlights

  • The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia provides referral services to much of Northern BC and includes a new emergency department, ICU, ambulatory care facilities and in-patient tower with all major specialties, except cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery and dermatology.
  • Family physicians are involved in the care of most hospitalized patients and do all the primary care obstetrics and staff the emergency department
  • Teaching practices located either in a clinic on the grounds of the regional hospital with 17 Family Physicians, or 4 community practices with 8 Family Physicians, providing full service.
  • Primary focus is training for work in communities outside major metropolitan areas with emphasis on procedural skills, primary care and management of acutely ill or injured patients, especially when access to a specialist’s care may be limited.
  • Optional enhanced rural exposure in R2
  • Call is busy, occurs approximately 1:4, with Friday a common night off
  • Emphasis on a balanced life with a goal being to afford residents the opportunity to hone personal qualities and skills in a work environment that is challenging but also collegial, supportive and fun
  • Our mission: We are a group of supportive colleagues working as skilled teachers and mentors, who model the diverse roles of FP’s within a high quality Primary Care home. We foster clinical excellence and shared leadership to produce competent, professional, Full Service Family Doctors

Sample Rotation

Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Block 5 Block 6 Block 7 Block 8 Block 9 Block 10 Block 11 Block 12 Block 13
PGY1

ER

Peds

FM

FM

IM

IM

Surg

Native Health

Ortho

Peds/elec

OB

Ob/Gyn

Psyc

PGY2

ER

ER

Rural

Rural

Elec

FM

FM

FM

Elec

ICU

FM

FM

Elec

Interview with a recent Prince George grad

What do you enjoy most about the Prince George (PG) site?

Prince George is a welcoming medical community with a small cohort and low learner to staff ratio which enables the staff to not only know individual residents but to also know academic and clinical strengths and limitations of the individual residents.  This allows for the development of a trusting relationship which affords superb clinical training. The warm welcome is rooted in the family practice group where each resident is matched with a home practice for their two year program.  This provided a solid foundation of family medicine throughout hospital-based rotations and offers the opportunity to provide continuity in patient care as well as develop mentor-like relationships with preceptors.

What kind of learning opportunities are available at the Prince George Site?

The PGY- 1 year is structured in block rotations that includes a two month rotation in the resident’s home family practice office.  This is complimented by weekly office half days that allow for the development of a “resident practice” and a reminder of how each rotation is relevant to our future as family physicians.

In the PGY-2 year residents have 12 weeks of elective time to accommodate their own learning objectives. There is a 5 month family medicine block with integrated longitudinal exposure to palliative care and geriatrics.  At the end of this rotation, there is the opportunity to do a “trial locum” under the supervision of attending family medicine staff.

There is an 8 week emergency rotation with excellent teaching and the opportunity for the resident to “run the department” within their abilities and challenges residents that are up for it. Further critical care training is provided in a closed ICU where the PGY-2 works with the intensivist as the sole learner; there is ample bedside teaching to help prepare the family medicine resident and ample opportunity for procedures.

Does it get fairly competitive with the other residents?

No. The distribution of the first and second year residents throughout the hospital makes virtually no learner conflict for clinical opportunities and procedures. The presence of clinical clerks both in their third-year rotations and visiting fourth-year electives also provides ample opportunity to act as a resident teacher and supervise clinical opportunities and procedures. There are senior residents in internal medicine with CTU, and often in general surgery, and OBGYN whose presence typically benefits our learning as they act as mentors and offer valuable bedside clinical teaching. Our resident group is very close-knit and often can be found spending our leisure time together.

Is the community very welcoming of residents?

The Prince George community and Northern neighbours feel a sense of ownership and pride in the Northern Medical Program and Family Practice Residency.  This spirit comes from the joint efforts of the medical community and community at large to establish these programs in the first place.  Northern communities and citizens are deeply committed to medical training in the north and welcome residents with open arms.

What kind of facilities are available in Prince George?

Within Northern health, there are over two dozen acute-care facilities, 14 long-term care facilities, public health units, and offices providing specialist services.  In Prince George, there is a regularly renovated 5 floor hospital where most family physicians take an active role in caring for their patients.  There is a brand new BC Cancer Agency center which opened in January 2013. The Central Interior Native Health Center provides primary care to First Nations peoples, outreach services to patients with complex problems and those who live close to or on the street.

Other agencies include the Child Development Center, the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Clinic and innumerable travelling specialty clinics. As residents, we have access to this wide range of facilities that provide abundant learning opportunities where the resident finds him or herself to be the sole learner. Prince George means full service family practice.  Rural family medicine offers abundant learning opportunities from preceptors keen to have residents involved in their practice.

Northern Health is known for strong primary health care system. People experience seamless and coordinated service. The ‘Primary Care Home’ is the foundation for multidisciplinary health care and helps people navigate across services.

What traits do you need as a Resident to really appreciate the Prince George site?

The friendly, small size Prince George Site is geared for training as full-service family physicians.  Since there are fewer learners, people who choose the Prince George Site should be relatively independent and motivated to seek out the many learning opportunities available.  As the family physicians in the north have a broader scope of practice, so do the residents have greater opportunity to gain clinical experience, procedural skills, teaching, leadership, community involvement and patient advocacy. If you are willing to commit, engage in the program and take charge of your own residency training, you will complete the two years with a solid foundation and readiness for independent practice.

What do you think is the biggest strength of the Prince George site?

The greatest strength of the Prince George Site is the provision of the clinical foundation so that residents are prepared for independent practice in isolated and remote communities immediately upon graduation. Also, residency is busy… hectic at times!  There is no rush hour, living expenses are very affordable, and access to community recreational resources and an abundance of outdoor recreational pursuits in close proximity to the hospital is invaluable.