Kelowna Rural

Kelowna Rural

Site Information

Number of Residents: 6 CMG, 3 IMG
Location: Kelowna, BC
Community: 142,000
Hospital: Kelowna General
Distance from Vancouver: 391 km
Curriculum Type: Block / Integrated
R2 Elective Time: 16 Weeks

Site Director Message

Thank you for your interest in the Kelowna Rural Family Practice Program.

In this carefully designed program, residents spend their first year based in the Okanagan. The majority of rotations occur at Kelowna General Hospital. Some rotations, such as first-year family practice, are completed in practicing physicians’ offices in Kelowna or surrounding area. These preceptors, and those in our rural communities, are world class teachers with an incredible wealth of knowledge and skill.

During the second year of training, residents complete two 16 week rotations in rural/remote communities in BC and the Northwest Territories. In these communities, residents work alongside experienced rural preceptors who provide excellent teaching and role modeling of remote and rural practice. 16 weeks of elective time is offered in the second year with 4 of those weeks in an acute care setting. International elective rotations are also encouraged. The second-year finishes with a 4 week ‘Transition to Practice’ rotation.

We will prepare you to practice in non-urban settings while stressing the importance of balancing personal needs with professional commitment.

Time and experience has demonstrated that the best candidates for our program are those who are looking for adventure and exciting medicine in a non-urban full-spectrum family practice community. Candidates usually have an interest in the recreational and outdoor potential of rural communities. Such “rational risk-takers” stand out from the average resident based on their activities, experiences, and attitudes.

The best promoters for the Rural program are the current residents and grads. We would be happy to put you in touch with these colleagues if you wish to communicate with them directly. Otherwise, have a serious look at our website and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Dr. Jade Dittaro, MD, CCFP, DipABLM – Site Director
Dr. Robert D Sebastian, MD, CCFP – Associate Rural Site Director


Lead Resident Message

The Kelowna Rural Family Medicine program offers nine positions for incoming residents (6 CMG and 3 IMG). Our rural training program is certainly unique, tailored perfectly for someone who is seeking a career in rural medicine. We provide training in the core aspects of medicine, while allowing residents to enhance skills in their specific areas of interest. Residents will have ample opportunity to develop responsibility and independence, in part because we are based out of sites with few other learners. With this independence, however, our residents never feel that they are unsupported. Our entire faculty, support staff, and preceptors are approachable and available to residents.

The first year of the Kelowna Rural program is completed at Kelowna General Hospital, alongside the five residents in the Kelowna Regional program. The year is block based, and residents will rotate through ICU, pediatrics, internal medicine, hospitalist, general and orthopedic surgery, anesthesia, obstetrics, psychiatry/addictions, and emergency medicine. Residents will also be paired with a family medicine preceptor who they will join for a 1/2 day in clinic each week, as well as for 8 consecutive weeks during the year. Additionally, residents can choose to carry out longitudinal electives with family medicine preceptors or specialists in other areas of interest (e.g. emergency medicine, obstetrics) during their first year. There are ample opportunities to tailor the program and it is largely self-directed in terms of learning, allowing you to reach your own learning goals for your future career.

The second year is divided into 3 x 16-week blocks. One block of these 4-month blocks is dedicated to elective time, with the only requirement being that 4-weeks is carried out in emergency or trauma medicine. The rest of the time is for the resident’s choosing, and they can complete electives locally or choose to travel across Canada or abroad! The other two blocks see the resident placed in two rural training sites (16 weeks each). These sites are distributed throughout British Columbia, as well as in Inuvik NWT. The sites are hand selected by our Rural Site Director to ensure they offer the highest quality of well-rounded rural training. This is really where the resident will have the opportunity to hone their independence both in office-based practice as well as in acute care, including emergency medicine. Of course, residents can expect to experience the added challenges that are unique to rural and remote medicine, which will provide them with strong problem-solving skills wherever their future careers take them.

Typically, the Kelowna Rural residents are keen and ready for a bit of adventure. The first year provides an opportunity to get to know your fellow residents and faculty. Residents are generally able to enjoy extracurricular activities together in their spare time, including skiing, biking, wakeboarding, kite boarding, running, paddling, and more. Each year strong friendships are formed within the resident group, which continue into practice. When in rural communities during the second year, we network with each other remotely via monthly video conferences and tuning in to academic 1/2 day. We also have our annual retreat at Big White ski resort, near Kelowna, which offers an excellent opportunity for R1s and R2s to socialize. The Kelowna Rural program demands residents who can entertain themselves while in their second-year rural rotation communities, as the isolation can prove to be challenging.

To support the rural residents learning, the following courses are subsidized within our program: Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Advances in Labour and Risk Management (ALARM), and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). In addition, our residents are required to take the Essential Surgical Skills Course (ESSC). The Comprehensive Approaches to Rural Emergencies (CARE) course is optional. Residents will have 10 conference days over the two years which may also be used for conferences or additional coursework.

From air-evacuating medical emergencies above the Arctic Circle to perfecting fishhook removal techniques in Haida Gwaii, the adventures are plentiful, and we’d love the opportunity to welcome you to the rural family!

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, and I look forward to meeting you all!

Dr. Kyle Exner

Interview with R2s

Haakon Lenes, Melissa Bryant and Joel Mohr

What do you enjoy most about the Kelowna Rural program?

“The opportunity to gain experience in numerous specialties in year one in the beautiful city of Kelowna and then being able to bring all of the acquired information and skills into a rural setting for the majority of our second year!”

“Kelowna has a very close-knit medical community which is warm and welcoming.  One huge advantage is that you work very closely with staff and specialists, almost exclusively one-on-one, along with some opportunities to work with medical students.”

What does your typical day look like?

“This varies greatly depending on the rotation you are on, but it can be anywhere from being a 9-5 day working in a clinic based environment or a 24 hour call shift that could be either packed full of non-stop learning experiences, in a supportive environment, or a nice balance allowing for  information consolidation, sleep and a chance to lift your feet!”

Is there a large service component to your residency?

“Very little service.  The only 2 full-time residency programs at KGH are Family Medicine and Emergency.  As such, most staff are not relying on having residents around to assist with the workload, so the focus is generally much more about your learning rather than on dictating discharge summaries.”

“No I found there was a small component of service during our first year of residency. We rotate through many different specialties outside of family medicine. This creates huge flexibility in individual learning goals and what you want to get out of a rotation. The opportunities are endless, and you can be as involved as you wish. The specialists are all very accommodating and will reward enthusiastic learners.”

What kind of learning opportunities do you have?

“There is a vast number of learning opportunities but what I found most important is the ability to customize your own learning opportunities. This can be done by customizing what your work week looks like to get more time in specific interests. It can also be done by choosing which community you work in to gain experience in rural practice.”

“The opportunities are endless! From surgical assisting, to resuscitating a newborn, to being first call in the ICU (TBD), to performing intubations and central lines, to managing your own patient cohort in the hospital and community, to numerous procedural skills, there is everything for everyone. Gaining these learning opportunities often requires initiative and enthusiasm, but they are there, and definitely worth pursuing!”

Does it get fairly competitive with the other residents?

“I personally did not experience an ounce of competitiveness. We had a very fun, supportive group where we all recognized that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.”

“I never found this to be the case.  You’ll find that you become very good friends with your co-residents and that people look out for each other.  There are more than enough learning opportunities to go around and lots of one-on-one time with staff.”

How does the community react to having residents coming in every year?

“I felt very welcomed and I got the sense that it is an established process within the community.”

“The communities are happy to have residents, the physicians you work with really get to trust you and treat you almost like another staff.”

“Generally very positively.  Almost all staff are keen to have you around and to do some teaching.  Again, because staff are not relying on residents to be on service, your presence is an added “bonus” for people to make their work day a bit lighter and meant they could take some of the extra time to teach.”

Do both years of the Kelowna Rural residency take place in Kelowna?

“At present, the first year is exclusively in Kelowna and the second year is mostly in rural settings around the province.  You will have 4 months of elective time in 2nd year, of which as much or as little can be completed in Kelowna.  June in your second year will also be back in Kelowna.”

How does the program impact those residents with partners and/or families?

“You will be moving around the province, especially in the second year and having a partner or family can make this challenging. You and your partner or family will have to be up to the challenge of either being apart or following you around the Province.”

“The program here is definitely demanding.  The workload, pressure, and expectations can be difficult to manage at times and this can be tough on families and partners.  I think this can be expected in any residency program, and Kelowna is no different, but they also have a track record of graduating excellent residents.  You’ll be expected to work hard but you’ll also learn lots.  Having a supportive partner and family can be a huge help in getting you through the tough stretches.  There will be lots of evenings and nights where you can’t be home and it’s important that families are prepared for this.  It can also be hard to find the energy during residency to be your best for your family and partner, and it’s really important you take time for self-care and making family a priority.  Most staff and rotations are very understanding if family things come up that are diverting your attention or require you to leave.  People here are also very family-oriented and understand that you have a life outside of the hospital.”

“I think R2 will be a little challenging for residents with partners and families as the majority of the year is spent in rural communities outside of Kelowna. However, there are travel reimbursements opportunities and supports available for those having a difficult time. Depending on the rural site, and if the flexibility is there, a partner or family may join the resident in the rural community to which they are matched.”

Is it hard for residents to be stationed in Kelowna?

“Not at all.  Kelowna is a great city.  There are lots of good places to eat, great wine, and amazing outdoor adventure possibilities. You’ll have plenty of things to do and try in both summer and winter between water sports, hiking, riding, climbing, skiing, etc. It’s also a very friendly city and I had no trouble moving here and settling in.”

“Not at all, Kelowna is a great place to be for a year both for the great learning environment and the great climate.”

What do you think is the biggest strength of the Kelowna Rural program?

“The strength of the Rural Okanagan program is the combination of the first year in Kelowna working in various specialties and the second year working in some of the best rural communities in the Province.”

“I think there are 2 components that make Kelowna a great site.  One is the amount of time you spend in rural locations.  This is where you learn how to practice independently, how to manage and function efficiently in clinic, and where you are exposed to caring for acute complex patients in resource-limited settings.  This kind of training doesn’t exist elsewhere and really sets Kelowna apart.  The other piece is the amount of one-on-one time you’ll have with staff.  Being a learning-based rather than service-based site means the focus is your education, and I found that staff here enjoy being a part of mentoring and training new colleagues.”

“The 8 months of rural rotations that we have in our second year to gain rural experience and exposure in a very supportive learning environment!”