Integrated Community Clerkship May Help Find Doctors for the Kootenays
Despite the pristine lakes, somewhat snowy mountains and a vibrant cultural scene, the Kootenays, much like the rest of the Interior of the province, are short on doctors.
According to BC Medical Journal, Canada’s medical schools graduate a little more than half of the number of physicians required. And believe it or not, these doctors are not settling in the mountainous paradise of the Kootenays.
The University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Integrated Community Clerkship and upcoming Rural Residency Program seek to change this problem.
Nelson native Lauren Galbraith is third-year UBC medical student, currently completing an Integrated Community Clerkship (ICC) in the Nelson and Trail hospitals.
Rural clerkships, such as Galbraith’s, aim to give medical students a glimpse of small town medicine before they graduate and begin their residencies, which typically last between two to five years.
The ICC program aims to inspire medical students to pursue a rural family practice, ideally along the shores of Kootenay Lake.
“Working rurally you feel like part of a community,” said Galbraith.
“I jumped at the chance to come home.”
Galbraith is no stranger to the Kootenays. The 27-year-old daughter of Pat and Eric Galbraith, was born and raised in the Nelson, attending elementary school before completing high school Trafalgar and L.V. Rogers.
Galbraith grew up participating in many team sports, including Nelson Youth Soccer and the field hockey, basketball and soccer at Trafalgar and LVR.
After graduating from LVR in 2006, Galbraith ventured east to the Maritimes to get a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from St Francis Xavier in Antigonish, Nova Scotia in 2010.
Galbraith, and other soon-to-be medical school graduates, will now have the opportunity to complete a two-year family practice residency in the Nelson and Trail hospitals.
Set to begin in September 2015, the program will provide four lucky residents with “a genuine rural medical experience”.
“We’re lucky to have this program here,” said Galbraith, who attended Medical School at UBC’s Northern Medical Program in Prince George 2012.
Galbraith said the program is designed to provide residents with the skills needed to practice family medicine in a rural setting, and includes rotations in surgery, ER, obstetrics & pediatrics, women’s health, internal medicine and mental health.
And what are the perks of the Kootenay Boundary Rural Residency program?
Residents will have the opportunity to work in the Shambhala music festival medical tent! Which, judging by this years star-studded line up, may be allure enough.
Add to that an obstetrics program that allows residents to follow patients through pregnancy to delivery, an “innovative mindfulness practice” integrated throughout the program, and eligibility for up to $8,000 per year student loan forgiveness; the Kootenay Rural Residency is one of a kind.
What this means for the public is that a visit to the hospital or drop-in clinic may be shadowed by a resident-in-training.
However, the visits will actually be completed by residents and possibly in conjunction with medical students who never carry out the entire hospital visit – but often do see patients on their own.
“The program will go a long way towards fixing our physician recruitment concerns, and could result in us having more doctors here in the future,” said Galbraith, who is currently working with physicians and shadowing them.
While this may feel uncomfortable to some, Galbraith asks the public to look at the bigger picture.
For more information on the ICC or the Rural Residency Program, visit: