Site Director’s Message
We would like to begin by respectfully acknowledging that the land on which we live, learn, and play is on the Traditional, Ancestral, and Unceded Territories of the Syilx (Okanagan) Nation and Secwépemc (Shuswap) Nation.
Wow, feeling adventurous hey? Want to come check out a brand-new site and try something new?
Welcome to the brand-new North Okanagan site. But don’t worry we’ve been doing teaching here for quite some time! We’ve had a lot of residents through here and are ready to take things to the next level. We are primarily based in Vernon, with additional opportunities to work in nearby Armstrong, Lumby, and Enderby, as well as electives in Salmon Arm.
We are a nice mid-sized site, not too big and not too small. This allows the majority of the care to be delivered by family practitioners, with friendly specialists just a phone call away for extra support. The majority of your acute medicine experiences will be located at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, a 196-bed hospital with over 200 medical staff and lots of patients who can’t wait to meet you. You will have very few learners to compete with here for procedures as there are rarely other specialty residents on site. And our flexible schedule will allow us to prioritize your learning needs to become confident in your skills as a family doctor.
We will be giving you opportunities to learn at various types of clinics in our communities. We have over 60 different family practitioners in North Okanagan, so you won’t ever get bored with lots of variety of patient experiences shared by great teachers. We have a very collegial medical community and will be inviting our residents to both local CME as well as social opportunities through our Divisions of Family Practice and Physician Society. Through your residency and beyond you will be treated as valued members of the health care team and a part of our communities.
There are numerous fun activities to do all year round here. In the summer you can go golfing at Predator Ridge, mountain biking at our provincial parks, or paddle boarding in the crystal blue waters of many of our nearby lakes. In the winter you can ski at nearby Silver Star Mountain Resort and Sovereign Lake Nordic Club. There is a live local theatre and a jazz club, a local brewery, and cideries, as well as lots of live music and stand-up comedy shows. There is all sort of great local restaurants located within walking distance from your clinics as well. And of course, in the Okanagan, we have many great wineries for you to check out! For those with families (or young at heart), you can go to the waterslides at Splashdown, visit Vern the dinosaur at Okanagan Science Centre, go for a honey tasting at Planet Bee, or enjoy a fresh slice of peach pie after feeding the goats at Davison Orchards. And for those that need a spa day, we have Sparkling Hill Resort located nearby as well to zenify yourself. Our site is big on resident wellness and you have lots of options to participate in whatever keeps you fully charged!
We are just a short 30 min drive from Kelowna International Airport for those traveling for courses or taking an exotic vacation.
We are building something exciting here and look forward to making you part of it!
Dr. Travis Allen
North Okanagan Working Group Members
Lead Resident’s Message
Coming soon in 2024! Take a look at “Residents Life” for FAQ’s from recent elective residents
Number of Residents: 4 CMG
Location: Vernon, BC
Hospital: Vernon Jubilee Hospital
Distance from Vancouver: 446 KM
Curriculum Type: Integrated longitudinal and block curricula
R1 Elective Time: 4 weeks electives
R2 Elective Time: 12 weeks electives
Promoting Health Care Equity in our community
Opportunities to learn and practice Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility, Anti-racism, and the principles of equity/diversity/inclusion are a priority at the North Okanagan Family Practice Residency Site. As a new site, we have decided that these values are paramount and we are creating a training site that models the value of safety, including trauma informed practice, for all of our patients, co-workers, and learners. Our preceptors are trained and dedicated to showing our learners the wonderful meaning and importance of serving our most vulnerable populations.
The Sylix People have invited us to work at the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) Clinic on their Land. The community is rich in Indigenous values, knowledge, and ways of being. Health care providers will need to be aware of the history and traumas that have impacted the health and well being of Indigenous Peoples to provide a safe place and space for Indigenous Peoples to share their stories. There will be opportunities to visit with our Aboriginal Patient Navigator in hospital and home visits to address barriers that continue to result in unsafe health care services and supports.
Our site promotes team-based care to connect our patients with the health care resources they need. Residents will work together with amazing teammates not just at OKIB, but also at Downtown Mental Health, the Urgent Primary Care Clinic, the Youth Hub, and Options for Sexual Health. We are training team players that foster collaboration and respect, integrating these principles into daily practice so they become trusted advocates for the unique care needs of their patients.
Making meaningful connections
We aim to make our residents feel a sense of connectedness; not just to their patients but also to each other, their preceptors, and to the community. Any residency program is a new adventure for our learners and you won’t have to do this alone. You will be a valued member of this medical community and your interests, challenges, and learning goals will be well supported. We will also promote resident wellness during this journey to further foster meaningful connections.
A Dynamic Site
We strive to have a resident objective driven site. This new site will continue to grow together with our learners as partners. Our faculty members are open to resident input and your voice matters. By meeting the needs of our learners, we will create strong family doctors of tomorrow.
Seeing Family Medicine through Multiple Lenses
We want all of our learners to feel confident and well equipped to work in many areas of family medicine by the end of residency. We will balance that training in health care facilities and in community. Residents will match with two primary preceptors with similar interests to mentor and provide patient panels to follow for both years. We will transition you into residency with additional orientation support. We will empower you to be an independent practitioner as you transition out of residency. Many of our family doctors are keen to teach and each practice is unique, so additional staff are available to augment your learning needs. Residents will work alongside longitudinal family physicians, focused practice family physicians, and locum family physicians to experience a range of career opportunities in family medicine.
Our UBC Academic Space is in the newer Polson Tower of the Vernon Jubilee Hospital. There are two lecture rooms equipped with video conferencing, SIM lab, multiple call rooms, shower, resident lounge, and supportive staff nearby. There is also a library on site kept up to date with all the learning materials you need. As we work together with undergrad medical students, you will have opportunities to teach.
Residents will spend one academic half day per week together, learning the CCFP Key Priority Topics through case-based teaching, SIM sessions, procedural skill stations, and facilitated group discussions. Regular exam preparation will be prioritized.
All residents will participate in the required Scholarship Curriculum.
R1 will start out with an Intro to Family Med to elevate comfort with your new life as a family medicine resident. Residents will then move on to 1-2 week rotations throughout the year, with opportunities for additional learning via flexible call shifts and electives.
R2 will continue with rotational experiences with flexible call. There will be more time for electives as well as exploring other family practices as you transition into an independent practitioner.
There will be numerous longitudinal experiences through both years. Residents will spend at least one-half day every week with one of their primary preceptors. There will also be attached patient panels for LTC, obstetrics, and palliative care to promote continuity of care.
|Intro to Family Med
|Children & Adolescents
|Maternity & Newborn Care
|Surgical & Procedural Skills
|Gen Surg, Ortho, Aneas, Gyne
|Option to do 2 weeks in Salmon Arm in June
|Focus on MSK
|Options for international electives
|Options to work with additional preceptors during FM weeks
|Health Equity Care
|Okanagan Indian Band, Urgent Care, Downtown Mental Health, OPT clinic
|Transitions to Practice
- Blended longitudinal and rotational curriculum
- Flexible learning schedule with plenty of elective time to meet your learning goals
- Control over your call shifts with various primary care options
- Few other residents onsite to compete for learning experiences
- Additional dedicated time to working with vulnerable populations
- High exposure to Team-Based care via training alongside NP’s, RN’s, and allied health teammates
- Prioritization of resident wellness with supportive mentors and regular wellness nights to explore all the beauty of our communities
- Eligible for Student Loan Forgiveness of $8000 per year
- Newly constructed and subsidized resident housing awaiting your arrival
- Becoming a celebrity as the first class of North Okanagan residents!
Residents may take one month of interprovincial or international electives as part of their elective time. This has to meet the standards required by the UBC Faculty of Medicine Postgraduate Programs.
Third year training positions are available in the area of Emergency Medicine, Care of The Elderly, Anesthesia, Palliative Medicine, Sports and Exercise Medicine, Clinician Scholars program and a wide range of other category 2 Enhanced Skills programs.
The North Okanagan Site is nestled in the grassland hills and surrounded by three lakes (Okanagan, Kalamalka, & Swan Lakes), making it a popular place for summer recreation. There is also more than one option for nearby skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. Vernon provides an exceptional quality of life that will also be prioritized for residents. By being a midsize site, residents can tap into urban amenities and see world class resorts, while also having a wealth of outdoor activities and strong sense of community and amazing recreational opportunities all situated in a natural setting. It is only a 30 min drive to the Kelowna International Airport for quick getaways.
Residents will have the majority of the clinical work in the local communities and living in the area would be both beneficial and expected. Newly constructed and subsidized resident housing is awaiting your arrival. Driving is essential to commute between communities.
Interview with Dr Taylor Jespersen, Dr Dan Devlin, and Dr Preeti Nagra (current physicians that previously did residency here):
What made you choose North Okanagan?
Taylor: I wanted to work in Vernon because it was a mid-sized physician community so I knew that I would have a broad scope as a family doctor, where there was a lot that I could do myself in terms of procedures and working up complex cases, but I would still have specialist support, imaging support, after-hours support. I wanted that hybrid.
Dan: I came from Edmonton so coming to the North Okanagan, the weather was very attractive. In terms of the facilities, it has big city kind of amenities with a small town feel. You get individual access to specialists; there’s not a huge pecking order when it comes to learners. There’s a whole diversity of things to do; multiple procedures as well as rural stuff with a good mix of learning.
Preeti: Being born and bred in Vancouver, I felt the Interior was the place to go during the summers. So it was a lifestyle choice to originally come here as a resident. But then I wanted to stay afterwards as well. I love the lifestyle here and everyone is super friendly.
What did you enjoy most about the North Okanagan site?
Preeti: All the physicians and the experiences that are available to you. I think I could see myself taking advantage of those experiences and actually being a part of them after residency. I felt very welcomed in each of the fields that I really wanted to enhance my skills in, so that’s exactly what I did. I joined some of the more exciting fields that I got to be a part of during residency.
Dan: Just coming here and feeling the cammeraderie right away with a lot of the people you work with. You got to work with the attendings directly, there wasn’t necessarily a lot of learners so you got quick access. Everyone was willing to teach if there was an opportunity. They would always make you feel involved in your rotation.
Taylor: I think what I enjoyed most were the work-life balance and the access to the outdoors. You could ski before clinic in the morning. You could mountain bike before clinic. You could camp on the weekends. That’s what I liked the best that was modelled in a lot of the preceptors that I encountered that had good work-life balance. They would schedule part of their days for activities so I could see a fruitful career in life embodied in my preceptors and how I could have that for my future.
What makes the North Okanagan site unique compared to other residency sites?
Dan: It’s new. Being new it’s fresh and there’s lot of people that are hopeful that this will be a really good opportunity. The big unique thing here I notice is it isn’t just the medical community that is behind this, but the city itself. The city is super involved and motivated to try and help us out as much as possible, whether it comes to residency housing or any other type of support they can offer the program. I think that it’s not just the hospital medical community, but the whole area as a whole. I think that’s a cool unique thing that you wouldn’t necessarily get at certain other places.
Preeti: I feel that all the facilities are so close to one another that it’s not hard to access one of these sites. And it’s all so diverse and different in their own way that you could have multiple experiences in one day if you want. And you can go as far as you want. For example, OKIB is just a 20 min drive away and it’s a beautiful landscape and completely different from the inner city feel. So you have the best of both worlds.
Taylor: There’s so much built in flexibility and opportunity for the residents to really customize it and make it their own. They can provide feedback on how it can be the best learning experience for them. It’s also built into the curriculum to allow for that flexibility and to allow for residents to really tailor their learning experience to fit exactly what they want and help you to became a really robust, well rounded doctor.
What learning opportunities are available at the North Okanagan site?
Taylor: One big thing you will have access to is in-office procedures. A lot of family doctors here do that and take on that ownership whether that’s excisions, biopsies, joint injections, IUD insertions, endometrial biopsies. So you are going to get that in your family doctor’s office. And you are not going to be getting one-off experiences with a specialist either. You are going to get to meet them on a regular basis.
Preeti: I think the learning opportunities are pretty endless. So not just what you provide in a family physician’s office but you can do family medicine in various different clinics and styles as well. You can do OAT for example, then ER, everything that’s entailed in hospital care, then hospice and palliative care. So I don’t think we are lacking in anything.
Dan: I think you have a really good opportunity to have any type of experience you want. Because this is a smaller site, a lot of physicians know each other and facilitate some of the experiences that are maybe more challenging at a bigger site. I can text one of my colleagues and I can have resident join them for a procedure the very next day. And it wouldn’t be a big deal to try and organize that or other experiences. And it’s because the community is a little bit smaller and everyone knows each other.
What was it like working with members of the medical community?
Taylor: Overall I would say the community of family physicians and specialists is really welcoming. Most of the time there isn’t that hierarchy and divide between specialists and family doctors or between physicians in the community in general. People are really eager to teach. Because there aren’t as many learners they have a lot of energy to want to teach. It’s a really great community
Dan: It’s been really easy transitioning from residency into practice. From Day 1 when I came here, everyone was super accepting and wanted to give me the best opportunity to learn, so working with everyone has been really easy. Specialists are just a text or call away and they are more than happy to walk you through things
Preeti: All the preceptors that I worked with, all had different styles of teaching. It was really unique to see everyone’s perspective.
What sort of recreational and cultural activities are available locally?
Taylor: You can be up at SilverStar and skiing within 30 min. You can cross-country ski at one of the world’s best cross-country ski locations. You can snowshoe, snowmobile, hike, and run and that’s just the winter months. Then in the summer you can hike, you can run some more, you can camp, you can paddleboard. There are no limits on what you can do if you love the outdoors.
Dan: There’s a ton of good golf courses around. There are lots of local festivals that come into the area. Armstrong has a big cheese festival with a grilled cheese competition that’s really good. There are lots of opportunities for recreational stuff. There are sports teams and social events. There’s the Vernon Doctors of BC Hockey Tournament with over 300 physicians that come in every year. You can be part of that as a resident and it’s a great way to network and meet a lot of specialists locally and across the province. There are endless amounts of things to do here.
Preeti: There are tons of wineries. Tons and tons. You can get memberships, it’s amazing. Wine is amazing. Everything is literally within walking distance if not a 15 min driving distance. We have Kalamalka Lake which isn’t super busy or crowded with tourists.
Is there a lot of competition with other learners?
Dan: At this point there hasn’t been a ton of competition. We have four med students that are rotating through and some visiting specialists. But typically as a resident you are going to have your pick of procedures or experiences that you want. The nice part is you can really have whatever you want to do.
Preeti: No competition. Because it’s a new site you can shape how you want it to a certain extent, and that’s super unique thing we can offer.
What are some current/foreseen challenges of the North Okanagan site?
Dan: It is a new site so there are obviously some kinks to work out. I think the faculty and everybody involved is pretty receptive to ideas to make this the best site ever. Housing in this area is sometimes a big challenge, but they are making resident housing so that will help to curb some of the challenges. Sometimes the cost of the area is a bit of a challenge as well. Other locums and physicians have helped provide accommodations.
Preeti: There are a lot of potential changes that can be done depending on what the residents like or don’t like because it’s ultimately based on their feedback and preferences. You can make the best site ever.
Taylor: The fact that it’s new. But I think that is a strength because there’s so much opportunity for growth. It would be really exciting as a resident to get to be a part of it right at the start and helping to build and develop the site into what it will be for years to come.
What do you think is the biggest strength of the North Okanagan site?
Preeti: Other than the super kind and experienced preceptorship, the amazing facilities and the convenience of getting to these facilities. The outdoors. There’s no traffic when you are going anywhere. You end up knowing everybody locally. There are some different things you can experience from winter to summer and from rural to urban.
Taylor: It’s a site in a community that is really going to welcome you in and be a place that you are going to want to stay for many years after residency. Because there is going to be so much that they can offer you and a potential partner/family in terms of lifestyle, access to restaurants, the outdoors, travel, etc. With a really great medical community where you can have a rich career that you can take in any direction that you really want.
Dan: You really have an opportunity to build and mold your career however you like. There is a need for a lot of different things and you can create your practice into something you will really enjoy. You have this opportunity to have this really good work-life balance in this area where the outside work opportunities are endless. You can live, work, and play in a place where people come to vacation. It doesn’t matter if its summer or winter, it feels like there are people coming to visit us all the time because of where we live. If you can work in a place like that, I think that’s a really good opportunity. And the site director too.
What types of residents are best suited for the North Okanagan site?
Dan: Someone that is self-motivated and okay with having a little adaptability, especially in these first years. Because it’s a new site, there will be some things that won’t run as smooth as possible. I think somebody that is outgoing, enjoys a good work-life balance, works hard when they are at work but takes the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor life is who will succeed. Definitely golf.
Preeti: Somebody that is open to new opportunities; things that they may have not seen before. Something that is a bit more rural, but with urban medicine as well. I also think being from Vancouver I was into hikes, but Vernon and the Okanagan put a whole new perspective on outdoor living and outdoor activities. So I’ve really grown into that person as well. So I think anybody that comes to this site will thrive and they will ultimately love this site as I do.
Taylor: Someone that is not afraid of a bit of a challenge, not afraid to work hard and really wants a diverse family practice at the end of their training. Because that’s what I think the opportunities will be available to them during their training.
STILL aren’t convinced? Well then here are some more quotes then from some other learners:
Dr Mackenzie Moleski, R2:
As a resident in the Kelowna program, I enjoyed my rotations in Vernon because it felt much more like a family doctor-run community hospital. Since it is not service-based, my own learning needs were always the priority. I was treated more like a colleague than a learner. The preceptors are approachable, respectful, and most importantly, really fun to work with.
Dr Josh Rivard, R1:
Working in Vernon was the highlight of residency. One of the most welcoming medical communities I have had the pleasure of meeting. When I had some medical problems come up, the team came together to support me like I’ve never seen. They treated me like family. The hospital and allied health staff are really friendly and supportive. A really great experience in one of the most beautiful spots in Canada.
Micheline Metzner, 3rd year ICC student:
Learning under the family preceptors in Vernon was the highlight of my clerkship year. They are all dedicated teachers and are incredible role models for any aspiring family physician, both in their knowledge and compassion for patients. Vernon is an incredible place for any learner in medicine. You get to build relationships with preceptors who are supportive and dedicated to teaching. It also offers a great work-life balance with plenty to do in the Okanagan.