Site Information

Number of Residents: 8 CMG, 1 IMG
Location: Nanaimo, BC
Community: 85,000 – 90,000
Hospital: Nanaimo General Hospital
Distance From Vancouver: 86 km, includes Ferry Travel

Curriculum Type: Partial Integrated
R2 Elective Time: 2-9 Weeks

Site Director Message

The UBC Postgraduate Family Medicine Residency Program’s – Nanaimo Site, started in 2007. Nanaimo Site has 16 positions, 8 in the R1 year and 8 in the R2 year. The R1 and R2 residents who have matched to Nanaimo have had a great learning experience centered at our Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) and the surrounding community. NRGH has 320 acute care beds and a medical staff of more than 200 physicians. All patients admitted to this hospital are admitted under a primary care physician. There are more than 100 faculty members involved in the academic and experiential teaching at this site.

Nanaimo’s central Vancouver Island location makes it an ideal community for Family Medicine learning. Close proximity to Victoria, Vancouver make connections quick, economical and convenient. The Nanaimo medical community provides a warm welcome to Family Practice residents.  Nanaimo is a convenient hub for travel to and from many island adventure activities.

Family Practice residents at the Nanaimo Site are matched to a community family practice clinic. They will follow patients within that family practice clinic during their 2 year Family Practice Residency.

Nanaimo is an ideal Family Practice Residency Program Site for those not wanting to be in a big city every weekend. The cost of accommodation rental and ownership in Nanaimo compares favorably to other British Columbia locations. Short and easy commutes to the hospital, clinics and home allows Nanaimo residents to have a healthy lifestyle.  Ample social, recreational and cultural activities are available in all four seasons of the year. Our mild climate and adventure culture provides great opportunity for a balanced lifestyle.

Nanaimo is the site of few, but valued Royal College specialty training residents. The specialty residents do not share or conflict for patient care experiences with the family practice residents.

Nanaimo has a strong palliative care program delivered by skilled family physicians. Nanaimo has an ICU that is friendly to family practice learners. Nanaimo has a high volume emergency room that provides excellent teaching and experience for learners. Surgery, Internal Medicine, Low Risk Obstetrics, Child and Youth Health and Mental Health and Addictions are all strong rotations at this site. There is lots of opportunity in subspecialty electives in ENT/plastics, cardiology, dermatology, and others (other common choices?). There is an abundance of role models and mentors to meet residents’ program support needs. We continue to develop an effective musculoskeletal educational experience and improved access to marginalized at-risk populations. Residents at this site have outreach opportunity in this region and in other culturally unique experiences in Canada and in the global health network. We are in the process of building and opening up new hospital based state of the art/modern library adjacent to resident site office.

Our academic activities are done in 1-week academic blocks throughout the year to allow a strong focus on the academic curriculum in family medicine. Examination preparation is facilitated effectively.  The site has excellent academic space including high definition video conferencing facilities, resident sleeping rooms, a resident lounge and a human performance laboratory (Simulation Lab).  The impressive academic space in a central and strategic location within NRGH is a strong statement about the importance of Family Medicine education in Nanaimo.

The Nanaimo Site will ensure that you will become a competent, confident, healthy and resilient family physician ready to practice in any Canadian community.

Dr. Tony Zuccaro, MD, CCFP & Dr. Marcia Fukunaga MD, CCFP


Lead Resident Message

Welcome to Nanaimo! This residency site began in July 2007 and has 8 residency positions per year. Our residents are a close-knit, independent, and active group who take full advantage of the flexibility this site provides. We have a close relationship with our site administration; they are very receptive to our suggestions, so change comes quickly!

Unique Aspects of the Curriculum

Longitudinal Family Practice Time

There is greater emphasis on longitudinal time in the family practice clinic than in other Canadian family medicine residency programs. Throughout specialty rotations, we spend one full day a week back at the family practice clinic in which we have a two-year placement.


As part of the philosophy of the program, rotations are very flexible. Each resident has both the responsibility and the freedom to tailor rotations around their specific needs. The R2 year specifically is meant to be shaped to your needs and wishes!

Academic Weeks

Academic time is concentrated in one-week blocks. During this time, we are all excused from our rotations and are never on call. We gather as a group with our education as the sole focus. The R2s are responsible for planning one day a week of academic time for themselves, which allows them to focus on CCFP exam preparation. Academic weeks are also a great time to reconnect and recharge with other residents!

Training Highlights

  • The program has a strong emphasis on education over service – you can mostly determine your own call schedule and have a lot of input into all educational activities!
  • Community Family Practice Clinics – All have keen preceptors who pursue a variety of interests including obstetrics, addictions, geriatrics, palliative care, Indigenous health, women’s health, cognitive behavioral therapy and MSK/sports medicine.
  • Inpatient Rotations – We are based out of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) –where specialty residents are rare, so we get to see and do almost everything! NRGH is large enough to have most specialties, but patient care is still largely directed by family doctors and hospitalists – which allows for an educational focus on full-service family medicine. We are getting the occasional medical student to work with as well, so teaching learners is something that is growing here!
  • Inpatient Family Medicine – Your inpatient evening call with GPs and hospitalists throughout the two years means you will feel confident with inpatient medicine.
  • Specialty Services – All specialists, in both surgery and medicine, are incredibly enthusiastic about education and tailor their teaching to what Family Practitioners need to know most.
  • Palliative Care – We are one of the few programs in BC with a mandatory rotation in first year. We receive the opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team of nurses, social workers, spiritual health and outpatient liaison workers, as well as physicians from palliative care, family medicine and oncology. All of our residents have enjoyed this rotation and found that it is immensely beneficial to our careers in family medicine – where difficult conversations with patients and families, and discussions around goals of care occur on a daily basis.
  • ICU – Similarly, we are one of the few UBC sites which get ICU exposure as an R1. Unlike ICU rotations on the mainland however, we typically are not saturated with other residents so we get first dibs for many different procedures that come our way! The exposure to sick patients and multidisciplinary teamwork is great to have prior to rural rotations and/or independent practice.
  • Addictions Medicine – In response to resident feedback, the first-year psychiatry curriculum was amended to integrate 2 weeks of addictions medicine, both inpatient and outpatient. This change was implemented immediately and would not have been possible without an extremely receptive program administration.
  • Musculoskeletal Rotation – We receive the opportunity on this rotation to work closely with orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists and rheumatologists, and will soon be able to also work with our local pain service run by anaesthesiologists Another evidence of how our site is always evolving and growing!
  • Emergency Medicine – NRGH has a beautiful emergency department opened in 2012 – with an estimated 60,000 visits yearly, it is the busiest emergency department on Vancouver Island. The ER physicians are highly motivated and enthusiastic about teaching residents. The city is also a hub for PoCUS training and research, providing many opportunities to practice these skills in a clinical setting with support.
  • Simulation Sessions – We have a state-of-the-art simulation lab, where we practice scenarios with nurses in a low stress, supportive environment relevant to family practice, acute medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics on nearly a weekly basis. We had over 35 simulations last year and know that there is huge potential for simulating a wide range of presentations in this lab! Residents are also welcome to participate in in-situ SIM’s in the ED.

Resident Wellness

Wellness takes on a whole new significance in Nanaimo. The physicians who run the program have our well-being at the top of their priority list. We are encouraged to be healthy, support one another, become involved in the community and to pursue interests outside of medicine.

Resident Community

We do our best to facilitate intercohort connection and facilitate community building amongst all 16 residents in Nanaimo, plus a few in the Vancouver Island Indigenous program. This is done through dedicated time for social activities, weekend trips as well as check-ins during our academic weeks to discuss any issues, cases, concerns, milestones and achievements!

Nanaimo and Surrounding Communities

Nanaimo is a beautiful and diverse community of 90,000 residents. The downtown and waterfront area has undergone significant improvements over the last 10 years and is now ripe with restaurants, cafes, and independent shops. Contrary to popular belief, Nanaimo’s inhabitants are of a wide variety of ages and come from many different socioeconomic backgrounds. Temperatures are moderate throughout the year. Yes, it rains, but mostly in the winter months! Nanaimo is also a very affordable place to live.

In Nanaimo and the surrounding areas, there is an abundance of outdoor activities: hiking, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, mountain biking, rock-climbing, and scuba diving are plentiful and at our doorsteps. Skiing and surfing are only a short drive away. Fun fact: We are the closest UBC residency site by car travel time to Tofino!

Who Are We Looking For?

We welcome everyone who loves to learn and loves to live! To get the most out of this program, you must be self-motivated and confident in your ability to identify your academic and psychosocial strengths and weaknesses, so that you can shape the program to suit your educational needs.

Academics aside, we are a supportive, fun-loving and adventurous group and would love to have other residents who enjoy building community, whether it be through discussing difficult moments in life, celebrating birthdays or exploring the great outdoors together. We look forward to meeting you, your partners, fur babies, and families next year! Please feel free to contact us with questions at any time.

Dr. Nora Penty & Dr. Katherine Coupland