Vancouver Island – Strathcona

Site Director Message

Three Communities: One Site: We are Strathcona!!!

Strathcona Site Director message pic


Welcome to Strathcona.

We are a Family Medicine Residency Site with an exciting curriculum to offer.

Strathcona embraces the communities of Courtenay, Comox, and Campbell River on Vancouver Island. Our hospital based care and learning is with Comox Valley Hospital and Campbell River District General Hospital. We are full service family physicians with hospital privileges.

Strathcona Site wishes to acknowledge and respect that the land on which we work and learn is the traditional territory of the Laich-kwil-Tach Peoples in the North and the K’omoks First Nation in the South


Our desire is to deliver a Site Curriculum that is dynamic, flexible and adapts to address your learning gaps and educational needs. Our aim is to deliver a Site program that is strong, comprehensive, has family medicine at its core, and provides structure and experience to increase your confidence and competence in readiness for the College Examinations and for the beginning of independent family practice. We aim to support your individual learning needs within the structure of our 2-year program and to make learning enjoyable and fun.

We offer a residency site that supports you and enables you to become the Family Physician you desire to be, developing your own professional identity. We will place you at the cutting edge of complete Family Physician care to provide a robust, challenging experience delivered within a supportive, collegial environment.

Our communities are vibrant with a diverse culture steeped in the arts and music. We have one of the best backyards to play in, resplendent in skiing and boarding; mountain, cross-country and road biking; soccer, rugby, sailing and hiking. I feel confident to say, that whatever your outdoor interest or activity may be, it is here! This brings value to our work-life balance.

Strathcona has three key features that make it a special place for medical learners to spend their Residency:

  • Our beautiful backyard
  • Our enthusiastic, supportive and collegial clinical faculty
  • Our educational program that recognizes you at its heart.

We empower you to identify and embrace learning gaps and shape your learning experience to address these within the structure of our program throughout your time with us

We welcome Residents’ active engagement in our communities at our Site and invite you to consider what difference do you want to make while you are part of the Strathcona Family?

If you want a challenge and would like the opportunity to really practice all aspects of birth to grave Family Medicine, you should consider Strathcona. We look forward to welcoming you to our happy, friendly and lively communities. We hope you will grow here as a person and realize your potential as a medical learner and a physician colleague at the beginning of your independent practice journey

We believe that when you have savored what Strathcona has to offer, you will want to come back for more.



Chief Resident Message


Nature itself is the best physician – Hippocrates

Our site is named for Strathcona Provincial Park, which is the beautiful playground that unites our three communities; Courtenay, Comox and Campbell River. We are fortunate enough to live in an area of the world surrounded by nature. In one day it possible to ski, cycle, kayak and canoe – you can even compete in a race which features all of those activities!


Our Site, Our Residents and Our Staff:

Our site is unique in that we serve three mid-sized communities. This offers both exciting opportunities and it’s own challenges. Our hospitals do see lower volume than the larger urban centers, which translates to a heavy focus on general medicine and less exposure to highly specialized cases. We are fortunate to have a wide range of local specialists who are readily accessible and very supportive of the residency program. We are usually the only learners at our site and this offers us the opportunity to be first call for codes, deliveries and surgical assists. You may see an interesting surgical case in emergency and be invited to follow the same patient into the OR with the surgical team.

Our site is very focused on resident driven learning both in the clinical setting as well as our academic half days. We all take turns running “resident as teacher” sessions for our colleagues and we choose the content of these lectures. In terms of clinical exposure, we have many interesting selective opportunities locally, which residents may choose to engage in depending on their interests. For example, we have access to cancer care/chemo, maternity clinic and methadone/addictions to name a few.

One of the most exciting aspects of our site this year is the new hospitals in both Campbell River and Courtenay.  We get to be a part of brand new facilities with state of the art SIM labs, innovative teaching facilities and cutting edge medical technology.

Our residents are a motivated and passionate group of people. Whether volunteering with search and rescue, pulling injured skiers off the mountain with ski patrol or competing in the Snow to Surf race – Strathcona residents are keeners who jump at the chance to be a part of their communities.

Our preceptors are incredible community physicians. True “jack of all trades” family docs keen to support us in our learning and help us succeed. We also have an amazing team of site faculty and staff who are passionate about our education and are always looking to bring forward exciting learning opportunities.


Our Education:

Two years of residency is not a long time to prepare yourself for life as a family doctor, however our graduated residents have all come out of our program feeling confident and ready to take on independent practice. We have regular SOO/SAMP/OSCE preparation nights, which helps us to feel confident with the CCFP and LMCC exams. Academic half day happens on Friday afternoon and is a mix of  both general and specialist lectures as well as resident led sessions, often followed by an Après-Half Day visit to one of the local watering holes!

Our site is rural/regional and our focus is on this aspect of medicine. If you come to Strathcona you will see a wide variety of cases and have little competition for procedures. We are however, a smaller center and while that offers us many opportunities, the challenges lie in volume – if your goal is to place 100 chest tubes by the end of R2 an urban site might be a better fit!


The Lifestyle:

One thing we do well in this area of the world is lifestyle. We work hard and we play hard. The local area surrounding our community is full of opportunities – whether you love to hike, camp, kayak or ski – you’ll find it here. We have great schools including French immersion as well as post-secondary education at North Island College.


So Why Come to Strathcona?

At the end of the day you need to choose a site that is going to be the best fit for yourself and your family. We pride ourselves on the health and happiness of our residents and the people who support them. If you are motivated, self-directed and looking for a challenging but welcoming environment, Strathcona may be the site for you!


Phillippa Houghton

Strathcona Site Chief Resident 2017-2018


“We are Strathcona” CaRMS 2018:

Strathcona backyard:

Residents 2013 Intro to Rural:

Strathcona Site 2014

Strathcona Rural Night 2014

Strathcona Rural Night 2014


Number of Residents: 4 CMG, 4 IMG
Location: Campbell River, Courtenay and Comox
Community: 80,000
Hospitals: St. Joseph’s General Hospital, Comox and Campbell River General Hospital

Curriculum Type: Partial Integrated
R2 Elective Time: 8 Weeks
Contacts: Site Director – Dr. Peter Gee / Site Coordinator – Pam Blake –
Chief Resident: Philippa Houghton –

Program Highlights

As a Family Physician community, we provide care to a community of around 80,000 people. Our community is rural, diverse, and rich with recreational and cultural opportunities. We provide “comprehensive full service care” to our patients, which is challenging, demanding and wonderfully rewarding for both patients and physician. The rewards for living and working here are huge; Strathcona Park is one of the most beautiful back yards to have fun in. Summer or winter, mountain or ocean, the choice of activity is immense. Our Site can support your drive to learn and become a complete Family Physician and the ability to go out and have fun with family and friends provides harmony to the challenge of work/life balance.

We provide a Program in which you become part of a group of Family Physicians who practice full service care, with a variety of individual medical interests and practice demographics. There may be opportunities for you to manage your own patient population from the beginning of residency training. We have up to 8 weeks “white space” elective time available. All electives are discussed and agreed with the Site Director during your scheduled four-monthly educational conversations (Periodic Reviews) to ensure they align with your educational needs and learning gaps.

Throughout your two years we have longitudinal experiences available, integrated into the extensive 16 months of Family Medicine placement in:

  • Emergency Medicine
  • OB
  • MSK
  • Elderly Care: Cognitive Assessment
  • Dermatology and procedures
  • Chronic Disease Management/Hospital Care
  • Addictions and Substance Abuse

Elective and Transition to Practice placement is discussed and agreed with the Site Director at Periodic Review

We are a rapidly growing community. The North Island Hospital project aims to deliver two new hospitals in the Comox Valley and Campbell River by 2018. We encourage you to help shape these future health care facilities. We hope, with your enthusiasm, we will continue to have health care centers and a medical community supporting medical education, professionalism and life-long learning as key foundation stones.

Sample Schedule

(ER is longitudinal exposure over 2 years and not shown below)

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 FP Peds Ment H FP FP OBG OBG Hosp IM Surg Surg ER FP



Residents Life: Sophie Waterman

‘We Are Strathcona’

Going through the CaRMS process is both wonderful and awful at the same time. On the one hand, you have the stress and uncertainty of what the match will bring, and on the other, you have so much possibility ahead of you. It’s the first time in four years that you get to make a decision about where you go and what you do, and that can be an amazing process.

For me, I knew what I needed in a program. I loved taking the time to evaluate each and every place, and picturing all the different lives I could lead. In the end, I picked Strathcona, and I haven’t looked back once. As you go through the process of evaluating your needs in a program, the kind of doctor you want to be, and the kind of community you want to serve, here are a few facts about the Strathcona program that might guide you:

We’re evolving

Strathcona is a newer site, going into its sixth year. This means that the program is under development, and various aspects of training can be adjusted, often with resident guidance. For example, our call schedule has previously meant a lot of time on call with lower volume. Residents, faculty and administrative staff have been meeting over the last few months to roll out a brand new schedule that gives residents more learning and more freedom. After training internationally in a program with very little student-based decision making, I needed a program where resident concerns and well-being were first and foremost when it came to the structure of the learning environment. Being in an evolving program can be a double edged sword for some. If you want a program that you can dive into without having to be involved in its development, you might want something more established. It’s all about finding the right fit for you!

We’re Rural

The Strathcona program serves two communities that make up a diverse population of about 100,000 people. In addition, we’re often the first stop for many patients coming from the North Island and the Northwest coast. This means that you will get to manage more complicated cases, and often have continuity with patients that in larger centres would be passed on to other services. The downside is that truly complicated cases requiring specialist surgical intervention will be sent further south. If you intend to practice rurally, our site can offer you first-hand experience in managing complicated cases, and help you develop the skills to make decisions about patient transfer. Other advantages of our rural site are access to extra training in our ER that is partially run by Family physicians, and the opportunity to increase your exposure to OB with our Family Physician led maternity clinic.

We’re Un-Opposed

This means that Family Medicine is the only residency program exclusively based in our two communities, and it’s one of the main reasons that I chose this site. Although we sometimes have visiting fellows and specialist residents on their rural rotation, in many of your learning experiences you will be the only learner present. This translates to more first-hand experience with procedures, more access to teaching by both family doctors and specialists, and teachers that aren’t overwhelmed with big teams or too much teaching commitment. It also often means that your hands are actually needed, and the development of your expertise and procedural skill is an important part of patient care. For me, this was a really important change from being a medical student, where observation seems to make up the bulk of your learning. I wanted a residency program where my skills as a family doctor would be developed with an eye on providing full spectrum family care in a rural setting, including ER and OB skills. Having an unopposed residency makes it that much easier to access the learning experiences that you want.

We’re one Site covering 2 communities

The Strathcona site embraces both Courtney/Comox and Campbell River, two coastal communities that are a 40 minute drive apart. There are four R1s and four R2s in each community. Being in different communities doesn’t affect the closeness of the residency team though, because Academic Half days are shared between the two communities and with a program of just sixteen residents, we prioritize our time together.

You’re Needed Here

Like many small communities on Vancouver Island, Courtney/Comox and Campbell River have limited resources for the people who are most in need. Many of our patients come from more isolated communities further north where there are few medical facilities and social services, and access to a doctor can be a scarce resource. You can be an advocate for patients here in a way that can really improve their quality of life.

It’s An Amazing Place to Live

This was the most important factor in my residency decision. As an International graduate, I spent four years away from my family, friends, and the BC coast. I wanted desperately to come home, especially to the communities and landscape of the coast. Strathcona encapsulates everything about Vancouver Island that I think is precious; One of the most beautiful landscapes in the world; Access to mountains, ocean, rivers and exploration of all kinds. Families and communities that live entwined with the rhythms of the natural world. Being able to bike to work at the hospital along the coastal highway, right next to the ocean with eagles flying overhead and the occasional humpback whale sighting has done amazing things for my resiliency.

Whatever you decide in terms of residency, and however you choose to rank your programs, remember to think about how you would like to live, not just what you plan to learn. If you’re interested in a progressive program that values quality of life and provides incredible preparation for full spectrum family practice, Strathcona may be the place for you.