The program welcomed its first class of medical students to the Prince George UNBC campus in January of 2005, and was one of the first of its kind in North America.
“Our goal of educating future physician in the north, once considered an impractical dream, is now a fully-formed reality – one that is helping alleviate the chronic shortage of physicians throughout northern B.C.,” says UNBC and Regional Associate Dean Dr. Paul Winwood.
Here’s how the program works.
Students spend their first semester at UBC in Vancouver August – December. They then move to the north where they complete the rest of their four-year term.
“In addition to local medical faculty who teach, the NMP also uses teleconferencing to broadcast and receive lectures from medical professional throughout B.C.,” explains Communication Officer Sonya Kruger. “UBC was one of the first medical schools to deliver almost the entire four-year medical curriculum through distributed campuses [and] since then, several other Canadian medical schools have followed that approach.”
Since its launch, NMP has expanded its intake from 24 to 32 – graduating seven classes since 2008.
Kruger says 30 per cent of NMP graduates who have settled into a permanent practice are working in the north, while an additional two-thirds are in rural, remote and northern communities.
“Training doctors is a long process; a large number of our graduates are still in residency or other postgraduate training,” Dr. Winwood adds. “This is only the beginning [and] we are looking forward to our next decade and beyond.”
One of the success stories of a NMP graduate goes to Dr. Alym Abdulla, Class of 2009, who is now an urologist in Prince George after completing his residency at McMaster University last spring.