St. Paul’s

Site Director Message

Welcome to the St. Paul’s Site of the UBC Family Practice Residency Program! Our Site offers opportunities to gain experiences in Inner City Medicine, Addiction Medicine, LGBTQ2S Health, HIV/AIDS, Palliative Care, Primary Care Maternity, Refugee Health and Indigenous Health, along with highly acclaimed rotations in Emergency Medicine and our own Family Practice Teaching Service. We focus on the development of strong clinical skills and independent judgment through experiential learning with excellent Family Medicine and specialty support in both community-based and hospital settings.

Our first year consists of block rotations as well as longitudinal academic and Family Medicine time to allow you to build comprehensive clinical skills and to start to experience continuity of care with your preceptor’s patients. Our unique “longitudinal” second year allows you to select and tailor your electives and selectives to meet your particular clinical, academic, and career needs and interests. In second year, you will be able to divide your time much like a full-service family physician might: covering your own practice 2-3 days a week and balancing that with electives, shifts in the ER, hospital or nursing home visits, attending births, and taking call with your community preceptor. This provides you with a self-directed, flexible and unique opportunity to focus your training to build the skills you need.

The faculty and community-based preceptors at our site are known for their collegiality, diversity and excellence in teaching and research. We meet regularly as a group with resident representatives to ensure that the concerns of residents are addressed promptly and openly. Collectively, we have a diverse range of interests and academic achievements that are woven into the academic program at our site. These include Behavioural Medicine, Indigenous Health, End-of-Life Care, Maternity Care, LGBTQ2S Health, Inner City Medicine, Health Advocacy, Medical Education and Primary Care Research. We value respectful relationships and resident wellness. We work hard to establish and nurture effective team work and self-awareness.

Our residents have performed well on the certification exams in Family Medicine, and are now practicing effectively across the country from the inner city of Vancouver, to rural locations such as Haida Gwaii. A number of our graduates have also gone on to develop successful research, academic and medical education careers, and many have returned to St. Paul’s as preceptors and leaders.

Our Site Coordinator Ruth Hadland and Program Assistant May Villacampa are key administrative members of the welcoming community of individuals that make up our training site. We welcome your interest in our training site and hope to see you at the Open House!

Dr. Betty Calam, MD, CCFP, MClSc, FCFP

Chief Resident Message

Welcome to St. Paul’s! Our UBC Family Practice Site offers a great opportunity to train in this fine city, with a unique set of clinical opportunities and a core of fantastic people.St. Paul’s Hospital, located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, has an important history of pioneering research and patient-centered care. In the early 1980s in Vancouver, young men began to appear in emergency departments with unexplained respiratory symptoms. Not understanding how this mysterious illness was spread, many hospitals closed their emergency rooms to these patients for fear of transmitting the disease to others. St. Paul’s was one of the first hospitals to open its doors to those suffering from what we now know as AIDS. A quarter of a century later, St. Paul’s Hospital remains a world leader in HIV research and patient advocacy, and is home to the Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. It also houses the provincial Heart Centre for cardiac care and research. This provides the background for a comprehensive Family Practice training program.

While there is a special focus on the marginalized patient populations seen in downtown Vancouver, the St. Paul’s program also provides exposure to the full breadth and depth of Family Medicine necessary to prepare residents for exams and clinical practice. After completing the program, residents feel competent to practice in any setting – inner city, suburban, or rural.The program is flexible and responsive to our needs. Residents are able to tailor their program to suit their individual learning objectives or gaps in their clinical experiences. Our longitudinal second year provides enough elective time to do international electives or to attend a few clinics a week in any areas of interest to the resident.

Throughout both years there is a large community of excellent GPs and specialists available for clinical supervision and academic teaching.The site faculty values resident feedback very highly. The faculty works extremely hard to strengthen any areas of weakness so that the residents are provided with the best learning opportunities available; many significant changes have been made to the program in response to resident feedback. Two years is a short period of time to learn as much as possible, and so attempts are continuously made to maximize the residency experience.

The St. Paul’s Site facilitates resident camaraderie. Starting with a Foundations of Family Medicine month with no on-call, residents at St. Paul’s  immediately have time to develop friendships and support networks that last not only the duration of residency, but a lifetime. Our residents are well-rounded and diverse, bringing unique interests and talents together from around the country. We enjoy spending time together whether it be at academic half-days, program retreats, beach BBQs, birthdays, or enjoying the wonderful outdoors Vancouver has to offer.It’s hard to imagine a better place to live than Vancouver. Its natural beauty and diversity make it one of the top cities in the world to live in. The leisure opportunities available here are endless, regardless of whether you are single or have a family.

The St. Paul’s Site lets you have the time to develop balance in your own life which will help you maintain your own health throughout residency and beyond.These are just a few reasons why you should consider St. Paul’s for your residency training. If you have any further questions about the site, feel free to email us or catch us at the CaRMS Open House at the time of your interview. We would be happy to answer any of your questions.

Good luck with the match – we look forward to meeting you!

Drs. Sarah Tranquilli-Doherty & Brian Lubelsky

Number of Residents: 12
Location: Vancouver, BC
Community: 600,000 – 2 million
Hospitals: St. Paul’s, BC Women’s and Children, Surrey Memorial, etc.

Curriculum Type: Block / Partial Horizontal
R2 Elective Time: 12 Weeks
Phone: 604-806-8569
Contacts: Director – Betty Calam – / Coordinator – Ruth Hadland –
Chief Resident: Sarah Tranquilli-Doherty – Brian Lubelsky –


The St. Paul’s Site is connected to a dedicated group of Family Practice preceptors who serve the urban core and inner city. St. Paul’s Hospital is a tertiary referral hospital located in downtown Vancouver that maintains strong ties with the community. The site trains primary care physicians with a broad range of interests including full-service Family Practice, Palliative Care, HIV/AIDS, Addictions, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT), Aboriginal, and Global Health. It is affiliated with Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and all residents spend at least one month at Three Bridges Community Health Centre, an inner city primary care clinic. St. Paul’s is also home to the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and is a provincial quaternary referral center for Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery related illness. There is a leading edge Palliative Care Service through which all of our resident s rotate, as well as highly regarded departments of Family and Community Medicine, Internal Medicine, and Emergency Medicine.

Program Highlights

  • Home of one of only two active Family Practice teaching wards in Canada, modeling comprehensive and continuous care in a metropolitan setting
  • Family Practice training is carried out in community practices and residents are matched for two years with a community Family Practice preceptor and will spend at least eight months with them
  • Majority of primary care inpatient and specialist training takes place at St. Paul’s Hospital, a tertiary referral hospital of 480 beds including Family Practice Ward, Obstetrics, and a very busy Emergency department
  • Paul’s has been a teaching hospital for residents and interns for over 70 years and has a proud reputation for the quality of its teaching programs
  • Opportunity to spend time in inner-city community clinics orientated to serving marginalized populations in the inner city core, including HIV, Addiction Medicine, and Indigenous Health

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




3 Bridges


Elec/ Vac




Elec/ Vac



Surg/ Pall















CofE/ Prac

*horizontal curriculum comprises of 16 weeks of Family Med, 8 weeks of elective and 4 weeks of surgery done longitudinally (usually in half days)

Interview with Craig Goldie (previous R2)

What do you enjoy most about the St. Paul’s Hospital (SPH) program?
St. Paul’s feels like a small community hospital even though it’s located in an urban centre. There’s a strong sense of collegiality and you get to know the doctors and nurses.

St. Paul’s unique program provides opportunities to practice inner city, aboriginal and GLBT medicine alongside traditional family medicine. Our program integrates determinants of health and social justice issues.

Is there a strong focus on doing procedures?
If you’re interested in procedures, St. Paul’s is well set up resident teaching – staff are eager to give you hands-on practice, even for ‘off-service’ family residents. I prefer focusing on the doctor-patient relationship, giving patients attention that goes beyond treatment. St. Paul’s views advocacy as a pillar of family medicine and believes that being aware of a patient’s barriers to health care – such as housing, addiction, mental illness, finances – helps you be a better physician.

How is the program organized?
R1 is fairly structured and block-based. In R2, you control your own schedule and can tailor it to include anything that interests you. The schedule is mostly longitudinal with a few blocks. You do approximately 2-3 days/week at your family practice office and then intersperse your electives/surgery clinics. You can do short block electives as well; the scheduling is extremely flexible.

The caveat to having this flexibility is that you need to be a self-directed learner – it helps to have strong administration and organization skills. The program is ideal for forward-thinkers who have a strong sense of their strengths and weaknesses and the ability to direct their longitudinal second year to improve their skills.

Is there a large service component to your residency?
We do work harder than most BC family practice residents but there’s a good balance between service and learning in most rotations. Preceptors try to ensure that we see interesting cases so that we’re not always treating the same thing. SPH depends on residents to a certain extent but the staff doesn’t treat us like scut-monkeys. Our role is clearly defined and well-respected by docs and staff. Post-call rules and days off in lieu are honoured, and we have an amazing program director who backs us up.

Is there competition with the other residents?
There aren’t an excess of residents at SPH, even though Royal College residents also work here. There are good opportunities to be exposed to procedures, deliveries, the OR and clinics without being crowded out by other learners. The SPH family practice residents are fun, vivacious and passionate. It’s common to see your friends frequently in the hallways, the ER, or while you’re up at 3 a.m. Almost nobody is difficult to work with here – we actually rely heavily on each other. If I need help with something, I know who to call because we’re aware of each other’s schedules.

How is the St. Paul’s program different from that of Greater Vancouver? 
Unlike the Greater Vancouver residents, you do most of your training in one hospital. Most of us live within 10 minutes of St. Paul’s so we don’t have a big commute. SPH’s catchment area includes the Downtown East Side so we have more exposure to addictions, infectious diseases, mental illness, and marginalized populations. St. Paul’s is the site for the +1 EM year, so we have a strong emergency medicine program.

Do residents only practice at the hospital?
We work mostly at SPH during R1 and for the R2 palliative care and psychiatry blocks. We all work at Three Bridges, an inner city clinic located near the hospital, for one month during R1. We do pediatrics at BC Children’s hospital and a community pediatric office. Our family practice offices are community-based; mine is in Kitsilano for instance. We also do a two-month rural rotation in BC. Our longitudinal R2 allows us to practice anywhere – electives are available at every hospital in the Lower Mainland and at a number of community clinics.

St. Paul’s is an older facility. What kind of services are available there? 
It’s older but it has character! The Emergency is new and the beds and equipment are modern. Obstetrics is a single-room delivery facility now which is great. It has everything you’d expect in a tertiary-care hospital with the exception of pediatrics and a step-down unit. It is the Centre of Excellence in BC for HIV/AIDS and the Heart Centre for BC.

How easy is it to settle into Vancouver?
There’s plenty of accommodation in downtown or in Kitsilano, but these areas can be expensive. However, the hospital is easily accessible by bike or transit so you don’t need a car. Almost all of the current residents live within 15 minutes and walk/use transit as parking is difficult to find. Since SPH is right on Davie St, it’s close to a lot of good restaurants. In terms of quality of life, it’s very hard to beat Vancouver.

What do you think is the biggest strength of the SPH program?
St. Paul’s is the only hospital in B.C. with a family medicine ward. It’s a great experience because you have interesting patients; you’re mostly on your own and you get to do a lot of decision-making. There’s a lot of responsibility but you have time to read around the cases and decide on treatment, and the admitting GP/Doc of the week is always available to discuss questions and concerns.

Because the R2s are covering the ward during July, incoming R1s can spend their first month of the program completely call-free. It’s a great opportunity for them to settle in and to get to know each other and the hospital. It’s one of SPH’s biggest perks.