Northern Rural Prince George

Site Director Message

Welcome to the Prince George site!

I’m James Card, the Site Director for the Prince George and Northern Rural Family Practice Programs.

I am a Northern Medical Program and Prince George Family Practice Residency Program graduate and am currently a rural physician with my clinical practice in Valemount. I’m passionate about full-service family practice and rural and remote medicine.

I believe our Prince George program offers a great deal to Residents interested in hands-on, hard work with the goal of becoming an excellent, independent, full service, fulfilled Family Physician who can practice competently anywhere they want.

Here’s why:

Established Program

The Prince George site is one of the largest and most established of the UBC Family Practice residency sites. We have been training residents in Prince George since 1995 and it’s my goal to create a program that excels in transitioning residents into competent and confident physicians for Northern and Rural British Columbia.

 

Our Hospital & Full-Service Family Practice Training

Our hospital is unique for a community this size as most inpatients are still managed by their family physician. The focus is on full-service Family Practice. Numerous community-based Family Physicians also work in emergency, including many of our graduates.

Historically we are known for extensive hands-on training from enthusiastic preceptors. There is also ample opportunity for teaching as Prince George is home to the Northern Medical Program.

Strength-Building Program

I’ll be honest, our site is known for hard work. The call here is heavy, with lots of volume and diverse experiences. While we’re modernizing this, we’re also paying close attention to the volume and diversity of clinical experiences to ensure that the Residents are appropriately prepared for independent practice. I’ve heard “You produce strong physicians!” from numerous other rural physicians and I saw this personally as a rural preceptor working with residents from all over the province.

 

Community, Housing, & Opportunities

You know, there’s a frequent saying in Prince George, “I came here on a 2-year plan”. As a transplant from the Lower Mainland myself, my 2-year plan is now going on 20. There are many reasons for this. This is truly a multicultural and diverse community of friendly people and ample opportunities and here are just a few of the benefits:

 

  • Student Loan Forgiveness: Yep! You heard me. As a Resident in Prince George, you qualify for student loan forgiveness.

 

  • Medical Community: Many of the family physicians here are graduates of our program and we’ve built a community that encourages them to stick around!

 

  • Housing: Our housing is affordable and many residents buy their first home here.

 

  • Amenities: We have a truly amazing outdoor community. You can sail, dive, swim, ski, run, and climb the mountains. We also have several indoor recreational facilities and access to all the shopping you need!

 

  • Opportunity: Our economy is growing at nearly double the rate of the rest of the province, so we’ve got jobs and plenty of them for your partner, children, and family.

 

I encourage you to learn more about us if you’re interested in rural medicine with a concentration in full-service (urban or rural) Family Practice which includes office, hospital care, ER, and/or obstetrics and you want to develop a solid foundation of acute care and ER Family Practice skills.

Please feel free to contact me via email at James.Card@unbc.ca with any questions you may have.

I hope to chat with you soon!

Dr. James Card MD, CCFP

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. We can and do train you for whatever setting you imagine yourself to be practicing in. For example, many of our graduates are working in rural and semi-urban Emergency Departments, sports medicine clinics, are clinical associates on internal medicine floors, are locuming rurally, are participating in inpatient care, assisting in OR, have gone on to become GP anesthesiologists, are working in addictions, Indigenous Health, Women’s Health, Prison Health, LGBTQ+ health, travel medicine, palliative care, and the list goes on! We give an especially solid foundation to practice independently in isolated and remote communities.

The R1 year is spent mostly “off-service” with half days back each week to your home family practice clinic. There are also plenty of teaching opportunities from 3rd and 4th year clinical clerks working alongside you in the hospital to opportunities to teach clinical courses for 1st and 2nd year medical students.  Prince George family practice is also truly full service, with family doctors being relied heavily upon to maintain the local healthcare system. Our unique learner to volume ratio also means we are often treated as specialty juniors as opposed to “off-service” residents, with all the associated opportunities and responsibilities. For instance, during your surgical rotation, it is not uncommon for a family resident to be the first assist on cases.  While on other services it is busy enough for there to be multiple opportunities for procedures with little competition from other learners. It is opportunities like this, that allow residents from our site to feel competent and comfortable practicing medicine wherever the future takes them. Prince George also has an excellent simulation facility. On top of faculty facilitated SIM sessions, we also have semi call protected time each month for resident lead simulation sessions.

This rigorous R1 training curriculum is then complemented by the ability to tailor your own learning to your future practice in R2. 16 weeks of electives as well as 4 weeks of Trauma/ER selective allow residents to pursue special interests or prepare for an R3 fellowship. The remainder of the year consists of 32 weeks in 2 different rural communities curated for their high-quality learning and preceptors. Residents are expected, and given the opportunity, to function at a junior staff level. They are given opportunities to be involved in emergency, obstetrics, anesthesia, surgical assisting, in-patient medicine, palliative care to only name a few. Residents often maintain significant ties to their rural communities by either signing on after graduation or going back as locums.

The site also promotes a family environment for fellow residents to get together on a weekly basis and embrace each other’s experiences with a unique call-free Fridays. 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.

In your free time, Prince George is considered the Capital of the North; this large city offers picturesque wilderness and outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, golfing and camping. 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, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, sledding 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.

Prince George is also 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 me by e-mail:

Kyle Ng – kyle.kh.ng@gmail.com

Number of Residents: 3 Northern Rural (8 CMG and 4 IMG also at the Prince George site)
Location: Prince George, BC
Community: 72,000
Hospital: The University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

Curriculum Type: Block
R2 Elective Time: 16-20 Weeks
Phone: 250-565-5749
Contacts: Director – Dr. James Card – James.Card@unbc.ca / Coordinator – Roghieh Soufinia – fpcoordinator@unbc.ca
Chief Resident: Kyle Ng – kyle.kh.ng@gmail.com

Overview

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 center (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): Inuvik, Bella Coola, Revelstoke, Cranbrook, Port McNeill, Vanderhoof, Creston, Queen Charlotte City, 100 Mile House, Grand Forks, Lillooet, Powell River, Gibsons, Golden, Masset, Sechelt, and Smithers.

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

Peds/

elec

FM

FM

IM

IM

Gen

Surg

Native

Health

Ortho

OB

OB / Gyn

Psyc

PGY2

Rural1
FM

Rural1
FM

Rural1
FM

Rural1
FM

Surgical skills week

Elec

Elec

Trauma Emerg

Elec

elec

academic

week

Rural2
FM

Rural2
FM

Rural2
FM

Elec

 

Current PGY1 Rural options:

Quesnel – General Surgery, ER

Williams Lake – General Surgery, ER, Ob/Gyn, Peds

…and we are working on more!

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?

Yes! 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-centered 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 spacious with brand new beds and there are currently many resident lead directives to continue to improve the space and make it a warm and welcoming place to relax. Currently, RDBC and PGME have new initiatives to fund snacks for on-call residents. There is also a BC Cancer Agency center connected to the hospital that has been operational since 2012.

The family practice building houses 6 family practice offices and is directly across from the hospital, making commutes from clinic to hospital very convenient. Other community preceptors are within 5-10 minutes to the hospital.

Prince George itself has all the amenities of a mid-size city. There are plenty of good restaurants, including two breweries and a local winery, gyms, and an aquatic center. 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 doable with a family. Many past residents have moved around BC with spouses, children, dogs, and cats!

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. For example, GPs are working in ER, Sports Medicine, Clinical Associate for Internal Medicine, teaching, rural locums, inpatients, assisting in OR, GP anesthesia, addictions, Indigenous Helth, Women’s Health, Prison Health, LGBTQ+ Health, Travel Medicine, Palliative Care, and the list goes on!