Vancouver Island- Strathcona

Site Director Message


Strathcona Site Director message pic

Three Communities, One Site – We are Strathcona!

Strathcona: lax̌a ʔik ʔəwinagʷis (“It’s a beautiful place”)

Strathcona Site wishes to acknowledge the lands on which we work and learn are the traditional unceded territories of the Laich-kwil-Tach Peoples and the K’omoks First Nation.

Welcome to Strathcona, so what are “we”?

We are a UBC Family Medicine Residency Site on the East Coast of Vancouver Island.

We are One Site embracing three teaching communities of Campbell River, Courtenay & Comox.

We are a Distributed Site within a distributed UBC FM Residency Program.

We are Rural.

We are Family Physicians with a spectrum of talents from full scope, full-service practices including ER and OB to office or hospital-based care.

We are learner-centered, and our Site experience has educational theory at its core.

We are a Site of inspirational and supportive teachers who create a rich learning environment in which we want our learners to flourish.

We are respectful and embrace our Teaching Clinical Faculty and Community of patients who generously offer their time and experiences to our learners.

We are a Site that prepares our learners well in all aspects of Family Practice care and especially for Family Practice in Rural settings

We are the Mountains & the Ocean with all the fun they have to offer.

We are BC.

We are Strathcona!

Take a moment and consider ‘what’ makes the ideal residency experience for you?

Do you wish to be part of defining your learning experience at the Site?

When thinking about the ideal Residency experience, how would you measure its success? What would that look like?

To answer, I may say, “well it all depends”. It all depends on you as an individual with your individual needs and your individual desires. That individuality is something we recognize and embrace at Strathcona as we place our learners at the centre of their learning experience.

We have a structured learning program, and we place you at its heart and ask you to help define your learning experience to make it unique and directed towards addressing your unique learning needs to guide you towards competence in all aspects of Family Practice.

R1 is dedicated towards specialist rotations including family medicine and R2 is dedicated to family medicine in your home community and can include a (remote up to 4 months) Rural elective and optional 8-week elective time.

We work hard to achieve our measures of success. We value our learner’s feedback; we value the National College’s desire for Generalist Family Physicians who can work anywhere in Canada and use this to guide our Site’s progress and future direction.

Strathcona continues to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of FM Residency education to remain relevant for Resident teaching year upon year.  We achieve this by embracing a dynamic attitude and a desire to embrace change as an opportunity.

My measures of success include graduate readiness and confidence for independent practice, Resident preparedness for the college exam, satisfaction with work-life integration, opportunities to practice and to support rural, underserved communities both locally and throughout BC.

My greatest passion is to see happy teachers and happy learners.

Over 75% of our graduates have remained locally; Over 85% remain on Vancouver Island and over 90% remain in BC.

The majority of our graduates embrace full service privileges including OB and EM care.

We love where we live and work.

We are Strathcona and maybe so are you!

Dr. Peter Gee,

Strathcona Site Director
UBC Clinical Assistant Professor; UVic Associate Clinical Professor

Lead Resident Message

Nature itself is the best physician – Hippocrates

Our site is named for Strathcona Provincial Park, which is the beautiful playground that unites our three communities: Courtenay, Comox, and Campbell River. We are fortunate enough to live in an area of the world surrounded by nature. In one day, it possible to ski, cycle, kayak, and canoe – you can even compete in a race which features all those activities!

Our Site, Our Residents and Our Staff:

Our site is unique in that we serve three mid-sized communities. This offers both exciting opportunities and its own challenges. Our hospitals do see lower volume than the larger urban centres, which translates to a heavy focus on general medicine and less exposure to highly specialized cases. We are fortunate to have a wide range of local specialists who are readily accessible and very supportive of the FP residency program. We are also usually the only learners at our site, and this offers us the opportunity to be first call for codes, deliveries and surgical assists. You may see an interesting surgical case in emergency and be invited to follow the same patient into the OR with the surgical team. We have clinical teaching opportunities at our local and North Island on-reserve clinics for our Indigenous Communities.

Our site is very focused on resident driven learning both in the clinical setting as well as our academic half days. We all take turns running “resident as teacher” sessions for our colleagues and we choose the content of these lectures. In terms of clinical exposure, we have many interesting selective opportunities locally, which residents may choose to engage in depending on their interests. For example, we have access to cancer care/chemo, a maternity clinic, gender affirming care, Indigenous medicine, and methadone/addictions to name a few.

We have new hospitals in both Campbell River and Courtenay.  Our facilities are brand new with state-of-the-art SIM labs, innovative teaching facilities and cutting-edge medical technology.

Our residents are a motivated and passionate group of people. Whether volunteering with search and rescue, pulling injured skiers off the mountain with ski patrol or competing in the Snow to Surf race – Strathcona residents are keeners who jump at the chance to be a part of their communities.

Our preceptors are incredible community physicians. True “jack of all trades” family docs keen to support us in our learning and help us succeed. We also have an amazing team of site faculty and staff who are passionate about our education and are always looking to bring forward exciting learning opportunities. Everyone at Strathcona is committed to your education and learning goals. They are also supportive, as many staff were once residents in the program themselves! We are fortunate to have a tight knit community that extends beyond the resident cohort!

Our Education:

Two years of residency is not a long time to prepare yourself for life as a family doctor, however, our graduated residents have all come out of our program feeling confident and ready to take on independent practice. We have regular exam preparation sessions, which helps us to feel confident with the CCFP exam. Academic half-day happens on Friday afternoon and is a mix of both general and specialist lectures as well as resident-led sessions, preceded by our resident wellness “Check In” where we can lean on each other for support as we navigate the trials and triumphs of residency. Our AHDs are also often followed by an Après-Half Day visit to one of the local watering holes, as no call is scheduled on a Friday!

Our site is rural/regional, and our focus is on this aspect of medicine. If you come to Strathcona you will see a wide variety of cases and have little competition for procedures. We are, however, a smaller centre and while that offers us many opportunities, the challenges lie in volume – if your goal is to place 100 chest tubes by the end of R2 an urban site might be a better fit!

The Lifestyle:

One thing we do well in this area of the world, is lifestyle. We work hard and we play hard. The local area surrounding our community is full of opportunities – whether you love to hike, bike, camp, kayak or ski – you’ll find it here and likely one of your co-residents or preceptors will join you!. We have great schools including French immersion as well as post-secondary education at North Island College.

So Why Come to Strathcona?

At the end of the day, you need to choose a site that is going to be the best fit for yourself and your family. We pride ourselves on the health and happiness of our residents and the people who support them. If you are motivated, self-directed, and looking for a challenging but welcoming environment, Strathcona may be the site for you!

Dr Madalon Burnett, Dr Conor Barrie R2 Site Leads

“We are Strathcona” CaRMS 2018:

Strathcona backyard:

Residents 2013 Intro to Rural:

Strathcona Site 2014

Strathcona Rural Night 2014

Strathcona Rural Night 2014

Number of Residents: 7 CMG, 2 IMG
Location: Campbell River, Courtenay and Comox
Community: Campbell River 35,000, Comox Valley 65,000
Hospitals: North Island Hospital: Comox Valley Hospital and Campbell River & District General Hospital
Distance from Vancouver: 190 km, requires ferry travel

Curriculum Type: Partial Integrated
R2 Elective Time: 8 Weeks
Contacts: Site Director – Dr. Peter Gee / Site Coordinator – Pam Blake
Lead Resident: Dr. Conor Barrie & Dr. Madalon Burnett 

Program Highlights

As a Family Physician community, we provide care to around 100,000 people from Campbell River to the Comox Valley. Our community is rural, diverse, and rich with recreational and cultural opportunities. The rewards for living and working here are huge; Strathcona Park is one of the most beautiful back yards. Summer or winter, mountain or ocean, the choice of activity is immense. Our Site can support your drive to learn and become a complete rural Family Physician and supports the opportunity to go out and have fun with family and friends providing harmony to the challenge of work/life balance.

Campbell River is 50km north of the Comox Valley (comprising the communities of Courtenay & Comox). Our hospital care is based in the North Island Hospital of Campbell River General Hospital (CRGH) and Comox Valley Hospital (CVH)

When matched to our Site, we ask you to provide a short “bio”. This information helps us match you to a community that supports your desires and needs and becomes your “home community” for the next two years. (We cannot guarantee to be able to meet requests for individual communities, but we will try)

The majority of your clinical activity will occur within your “home community” with some travel required for some specialist rotations and for Academic Half Day (AHD).

Academic Half Day (AHD)

Academic teaching takes place each Friday afternoon in Comox Valley or Campbell River. When non virtual this means travel for half of our Residents from one teaching community to the other. The AHD comprises three one hour teaching topics, typically one led by a specialist and two led by Residents and facilitated by a Family Physician. We call the latter Work-place Generated Teaching (WpGT) as our Residents share learning around their clinical experiences to help prepare for CCFP and independent Practice. We cover the 99 topics, hot topics, guidelines, McMaster Modules, behavioural medicine and whatever your passion or need may be. We hope to keep these sessions active and fun.

Each week you will have a dedicated Resident-only meeting led by the Site Lead Resident(s) prior to AHD to support resilience through near-peer support and to support Site orientation.

‘Home’ Clinics & Preceptors

You will be attached to a Primary Preceptor who takes on the responsibility to collaborate with you on planning your schedule and for evaluations. You may also be attached to a secondary Preceptor(s) either in the same clinic or a nearby clinic.

An expectation is for you is to develop competence in all aspects of Family Medicine care, from womb to tomb. It is unlikely that a preceptor practice alone is able to provide that need and so we encourage a shared preceptor model to achieve all the experiences required to develop competence in all domains of care by design rather than by chance. This multi preceptor model also provides the opportunity to experience differing styles of preceptorship, diverse office EMR familiarity, variety of staff and models of practice including running an office and the ‘Business of medicine’.

Site Curriculum

There are opportunities for you to manage your own patient population from the beginning of residency training and to support the development of your professional identity.

In July you begin with a month in your home clinic and then begin specialist rotations which occupies the majority of R1. Specialist rotations include OB (8weeks), Child and adolescent health (4 weeks), Mental Health (4 weeks), Surgery (6 weeks), Hospital Medicine (12 weeks – 8 weeks IM and 4 weeks “Hospitalist”) EM (5 weeks and longitudinal sessions) and Family Medicine (12 weeks)

Each rotation begins with a conversation with your rotation lead to consider goal setting to help define your specialist experience. Each specialist experience is unique for each learner, guided by your needs and CCFP curriculum expectations. An example of this is Surgery. If you have plenty of experience in general surgery for example and little in orthopedics, plastics and ophthalmology, we encourage you to create a surgery rotation schedule to reflect those needs. We wish for you to identify your needs and learning gaps, so we may help you progress them to competence. During the majority of specialist rotations, you will have a day back in your “home” clinic to support your longitudinal FM experience

The whole of R2 is dedicated to Family Medicine and can include up to 4 months of optional (remote) Rural rotation time and 8 weeks of (optional) elective time. You also have the opportunity to integrate longitudinal experiences into your FM week including ER, OB, MSK, Dermatology, Indigenous Health clinics.

The majority of your two years is spent in the Family Medicine office. In the last few weeks of residency, Residents may have the opportunity to cover their FM preceptor office (GP Practicum) for a maximum of 2 weeks.


We have up to 8 weeks of optional elective time available. All electives are discussed and agreed with the Site Director at Periodic Review and your Primary Preceptor to help align them with your educational needs and learning gaps.

After the CCFP exam in R2, elective time may be directed toward ‘transition to practice’ (e.g. intensive OB experience prior to commencing independent practice that includes OB).

Exam Preparation

We have 4 SAMP preparatory tests in two years

We have formal SOO preparations sessions commencing in R1

AHD provides an opportunity for exam preparation sessions to support the formal learning

We encourage you to develop Learner study groups.

Our graduates have identified exam preparation as a Site strength.

Site Ethos

We offer a lot of flexibility to help create an experience which is unique within the overarching program structure. We want you to realize your potential as a Family Physician through identifying your leaning gaps and addressing those needs locally through rotations and longitudinal experiences. If we cannot deliver your needs locally, we identify together where that may be met and utilize this through elective time.

We want you to embrace your medical passions to develop competence and excellence. We want you to create strong foundations for your professional identity as you progress from medical student to independent practitioner. We want you to have fun learning by engaging in and defining your learning experience. Our Clinical Teaching Faculty are role models for rural family practice and inspire our learners with the joys of community care. Our teachers create a safe and rich learning environment in which you and our learners may flourish. You are placed at the heart of your experience.

The shared goal of our Site and Teachers is to help you discover and develop the best version of you as a rural Family Doctor.

Embrace the opportunity and enjoy the journey.

We Are Strathcona!

Residents Reflection

Site Info:

  • Two teaching communities: Comox Valley and Campbell River
  • 4 R1s and 4 R2s in each community (16 residents in total)
  • Weekly shared academic half days, hybrid zoom and in-person hands-on learning
  • Each resident has a home clinic with a primary Family Medicine preceptor for the two-year program
  • Most of your time will be in your home community, but some rotations will require travel to the other community
  • Facilities include the 153-bed Comox Valley Hospital and 95-bed Campbell River Hospital, both of which are still new and shiny (built in 2017)

Learning Opportunities

We are the only residents exclusively based out of our two communities. We do get visiting residents and medical students, but we are generally the only resident in the room (or even the building). Family doctors and specialists alike will pull us aside to show us their interesting cases, and we have plenty of opportunities to practice procedural skills. Since we work with the same primary preceptor through the 2 years for Family Medicine, we are able to develop long term relationships with our patients and preceptors.

Our program administrative team is very respectful of adult learning. The team is flexible in making your educational opportunities fit the context of your life and your interests. We have the ability to tailor our residency training to match our specific future practice. The program is also very receptive to suggestions for changes to the curriculum. Learning here is truly resident-driven.

As a rural teaching site, there is ample opportunity to get comfortable with both bread-and-butter Family Medicine and more complicated patient care. The two communities serve a population of approximately 100 000, and we are also the referral sites for the North Island. We often will manage cases that would typically be passed on to specialized services in larger communities, and there are opportunities for continuity of care that would be lost in a larger centre. If you are the type of resident that wants to assist in complex neurosurgeries or watch percutaneous interventions, we might not be the right choice for you; BUT if you are hoping to become confident in practicing Family Medicine independently and knowing when to transfer patients for these more complex procedures, our program has an advantage. If you are interested, you can also sign up for extra time in the emergency room and family practice obstetrics. We also have a fully functional sim lab with regularly scheduled sessions to get practical experience managing a variety of urgent and emergent situations.

Your Team

We are an incredibly close group of residents. Even though we live in two different communities, our academic half days are shared. Every week we have a protected hour dedicated to a resident-only meeting, which gives us an opportunity to stay connected, share our successes, and discuss any challenges we had throughout the week. We also have call-free Fridays, and so after our Friday afternoon academic half day we are able to get together as a group and do some of our favourite activities (see below). Our program administration team is very supportive of resident wellness, and so we have a lot of support for activity planning.

Life Outside of Medicine

Strathcona is one of the most beautiful places in the world. On my bike to work along the Campbell River Greenway, I frequently see seals, herons, and bald eagles. When we are not at work, you can usually find us hiking, biking, swimming in one of the local lakes, fishing, skiing, and more. Many of our residents have young families and we are usually lucky to have our spouses and children join us for group activities. There are some excellent restaurants in the two communities and there are evenings where we can enjoy live music and shows. The area is steeped in heritage as we are located on the traditional territory of the Laich-Kwil-Tach and K’ómoks First Nation. There is also a busy local airport with daily commercial flights to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and more.

You Can Build a Future Here

You’re needed here! Like many corners of the province, there is a high demand for primary care, and patients will try to recruit you from your first day. There is also an annual “clinic crawl” where local clinics will introduce you to their practice for recruitment purposes. Many of our patients have complex needs and are accustomed to limited resources, so there is a real opportunity to advocate on their behalf. If you are happy here as a resident, there will be no shortage of jobs for you to transition into upon graduation.

We Hope to See You Soon!

CaRMs decisions are difficult, but no matter what you decide, we are sure that you will find a happy and fulfilling career. If you are looking for a program that will prepare you for independent practice as a confident and versatile Family Physician while still respecting your need for wellness, family, and personal time, we may be the right program for you!

Dr Madalon Burnett and Dr Conor Barrie, R1 Site Representatives 2023