Northern Rural Prince George

Site Director Message

Amidst efforts to resurrect full service family practice across the country, it’s worth noting that in a great many smaller communities it never really died. Small groups of general practitioners still provide everything from maternity to palliative care for patients they know well, close to home, 24/7. BC’s Northern Rural Program aims to provide you with the skills you need to bring confidence and joy to that kind of role.

Year one is spent in Prince George, the bustling referral hub of north central BC. Here you will obtain practical, FP-centered foundation experience in specialties and family practice in a referral hospital where family doctors make important contributions to the care of every patient. Family practice teaching is centered in 4 community practices with 8 preceptors or in a clinic that houses 17 FP preceptors (9 of them graduates of our program) . Small town practice is enriched by community life. By being based in Prince George for the whole first year, you can join the cross country ski club, sing in the community choir, take dance lessons, or whatever your heart desires, without the disruption of having to move around.

In the second year, you get first crack at 4 month placements with experienced full service GPs in two beautiful rural BC communities. Whether your outdoor passion is fly fishing, back country skiing, or leisurely walks, we have a town for you. You will essentially follow the Kelowna Rural Program second year schedule, and join them for academic teaching.

We’re in the business of residency training because we want young colleagues to settle in Rural BC and share the bounty. If you aren’t having fun and learning a lot, we know you won’t stay. Talk to our residents and grads at the Open House or contact the chief residents via email addresses below. They’ll tell you this is the best all-round family medicine experience anywhere.

Our pledge is to equip you with the skills you need for a gratifying, productive time in small town medicine.

Dr. Susan Knoll, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Chief Resident Message

At the Prince George and the Northern Rural Sites, Family Medicine training is designed with the goal of preparing residents for practicing medicine wherever they may choose. The focus of this site is to provide residents with the skill set to practice in smaller, remote and rural communities in full spectrum family medicine.Our strong clinical skills are developed through a high degree of patient responsibility, plenty of opportunity for hands-on experience, and a supportive team of preceptors and medical staff. With very few specialty residents in the community, we have the opportunity to see and do many procedures that a larger centre does not offer. The interest in providing a positive experience for the residents is shared by the entire medical community and the local patient population who lobbied hard to get a medical school created in Northern BC.

The medical community here is fantastic. By the end our two years, we will have developed the knowledge, training, and confidence to set out on our careers as family physicians in a community of any size. Recent graduates have entered full service family practice including obstetrics and emergency without any additional training.In addition to our clinical experiences, there are opportunities for supplementary education and courses, including: Advances in Labour and Risk Assessment (ALARM), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Comprehensive Approach for Rural Emergencies (CARE) and ACLS re-certification.There is a seven hundred dollar Resident Activity Fund which is provided for each resident to put towards courses, conferences or other resources not funded directly by the program.

Our site has the advantage of a single hospital and nearby offices as the base for all first year residents and those second year residents who are in the Prince George program. Some sub specialty rotations will additionally provide exposure to the smaller communities which surround Prince George including: Quesnel, Vanderhoof, MacKenzie and McBride. We also work alongside Northern Medical Program UBC medical students, which provides opportunities for teaching and creates resident and medical student camaraderie.Prince George and the surrounding communities allow for a balanced lifestyle, essential to a satisfying career in medicine.

There are a wide range of recreation activities such as running, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, climbing, biking, hockey, swimming and downhill and cross country skiing, as well as various creative ventures including acting, singing, painting, and more. One unique feature to the Prince George site is “call free Friday” where all residents are free from clinical duties–this gives us the time to develop relationships by exploring the variety of things that Prince George has to offer or spend some time at home with family and friends. We pride ourselves on the balanced approach we learn from our preceptors here in Northern BC.

Thank you for taking the time to read about our site. If you are looking for a program that is going to challenge you and provide a learning environment to give what you need to know to practice full spectrum family medicine in any size community, Prince George may be the place for you!

We look forward to meeting you at the CaRMS Open House and hope to see you next year in Prince George!

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

Drs. Audrey da Costa Heath & Christina Boucher

Number of Residents: 3
Location: Prince George, BC
Community: 72,000
Hospital: The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

Curriculum Type: Block
R2 Elective Time: 16 Weeks
Phone: 250-565-2599
Contacts: Director – Susan Knoll – / Coordinator – Lisa Lakusta –
Chief Residents: Christina Boucher and Audrey Da Costa Heath –


First year residents do the Prince George-based curriculum, along with their Prince George colleagues. The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia provides referral services to the people of northern and central BC. The medical staff of 145 includes all major specialties except cardiac and neurosurgery. There are 1100 obstetrical deliveries, 45,000 emergency visits, and 8600 surgical procedures annually.

Family Practice teaching is centered in 5 community practices or in a free standing clinic, accommodating six practices. All practices use electronic medical records and are connected to the hospital systems allowing for access to all laboratory and radiology results. All preceptors embrace leading edge practice solutions such as group visits and integrated health strategies.

In the second year, joining the schedule of the Kelowna based Rural Site, residents locate in two rural communities where they experience extended block time in accredited, high quality rural training sites. The setting affords the resident the opportunity to learn procedural skills and assume responsibility for a variety of clinical problems. The combination of hospital-based training in a regional referral centre (Prince George) in the first year, followed by the challenge of a more independent style of practice during second year, arguably combines the best of both worlds as an ideal training for rural family practice.

Participating rural communities include (these may change from year to year): Bella Bella, Inuvik,  Bella Coola, Hazelton, Revelstoke, Cranbrook, Port McNeill, Vanderhoof, Creston, Queen Charlotte City, 100 Mile House, Grand Forks, Lillooet, Dawson Creek, Powell River, Alert Bay, Fernie, Fort St. James, Gibsons, Golden, Invermere, Iqaluit, Langley, MacKenzie, Masset, Nakusp, Nelson, Osoyoos/Oliver, Pemberton, Port Alberni, Salmon Arm, Salt Spring Island, Sechelt, Smithers, Squamish, Tofino,  Williams Lake, Wilson Creek.

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













OB / Gyn









Trauma Emerg










What kinds of learning opportunities are available in the Northern Rural Site?

The learning at this site is very hands-on and you will have plenty of opportunity for procedural skills, direct patient management, etc. Self-directed learners will thrive in Prince George – unlimited opportunities are there for you to create if you take initiative. This is particularly good practice for your following R2 year when you are even more independent.

The R1 year is identical to the Prince George program. Block rotations in specialties, including a 2-month block in your family practice office is offered.

The R2 year consists of two 4-month blocks in rural communities. During this time, the learning is generally longitudinal. In most communities you will function as a full member of the family practice team and be responsible for the same services that the local practicing physicians offer. A typical day may have you rounding on your inpatients, running a clinic or the ER, delivering your obstetrical patients, or doing surgical assists!

The remainder of the R2 year dedicates 4 weeks to Trauma/ER, and the rest to electives of your choice.

Does it get fairly competitive with the other residents?

Absolutely not. Prince George residents are truly supportive of each other, and because there is a relatively low volume of learners there is no need to fight over who gets to do the central line! In your R2 year, you will often be the only resident on site, so competition is not an issue.

Is the community very welcoming of residents?

The medical community in Prince George is extremely welcoming and happy to have residents. The community of Prince George itself is also quite invested in its medical learners and was, in fact, instrumental in the creation of a Northern Medical Program. The rural communities you will visit in R2 are specifically selected because they are learner-centred and eager to engage in resident education.

What kinds of facilities are available in Prince George?

The hospital in Prince George has been recently renovated with a new addition. The resident lounge and call rooms are some of the nicest I’ve seen! A brand new BC Cancer Agency centre is currently being completed.

The family practice building houses 6 family practice offices and is directly across from the hospital, making commutes from clinic to hospital very convenient.

Prince George itself has all the amenities of a mid-size city. There are plenty of good restaurants, gyms, and an aquatic centre. The city is full of parks and walking/biking trails with easy access.

Facilities available in the R2 year are variable and depend on what rural communities you choose. All communities will have a clinic and hospital – the smaller ones may be combined within the same building. Check out individual communities for more information.

What traits do you need as a Resident to really appreciate the Northern Rural Site?

Self-directed learners and self-starters are best suited to this program. If you have a sense of adventure, love to travel, and can pack light, this program is for you! There is a lot of moving around in your R2 year, but the payoff is well worth it. And yes – it is do-able with a family. I’m currently moving around BC with my husband, dog, and cat!

What do you think is the biggest strength of the Northern Rural Site?

In my opinion, the independence and full-service emphasis in Prince George in the first year will prepare you for rural practice in a way other programs may not. As far as R2 goes….the adventure is endless! Not only do you develop a broad scope of practice and confidence, but you get to live in some of the most beautiful places on earth!

Key point: You will be comfortable and competent to practice medicine anywhere when you finish this program.