Ministry of Advanced Education
Medical Training Expansion
The Province has doubled the number of first-year student doctors trained in B.C. to address current and future shortages, particularly in rural and remote areas. In just four years, the number of first-year spaces for medical students has increased to 256, compared with 128 in 2003-04.
To achieve this goal, the B.C. government expanded the University of British Columbia’s medical school program to other regions. Thanks to this investment in British Columbia’s future, medical students can now study in Prince George at the University of Northern B.C. and on Vancouver Island at the University of Victoria. On September 23, 2008, construction also began on the home of UBC’s Southern Medical Program, which will train doctors on its Okanagan campus for the first time in B.C. history.
Government decided to educate doctors in the North, the interior and on Vancouver Island to help recruit and retain qualified medical professionals in rural and remote communities. Between 1980 and 2000, the Province’s population grew by 50 per cent, but the number of medical school spaces in B.C. did not increase. As a result, access to care declined in rural regions, particularly in the North.
Expanding medical programs in more regions helps underserved areas attract their share of B.C.’s new doctors, as MDs often set up practice where they have trained.
The UVic and UNBC programs are linked to UBC by state-of-the-art videoconferencing, a distributed learning approach to medical education that is unique in North America. The Province invested $167.7 million in buildings to accommodate the new spaces and the technology to support this distributed learning. This investment includes $110 million for the new Life Sciences Centre at UBC’s Vancouver campus, a further $33.7 million for the new Health Sciences Centre at UBC’s Okanagan campus, and about $12 million each for the Northern Health Sciences Centre at UNBC and the Medical Sciences Building at UVic.
Facts on Provincial Investment in Health Post-Secondary Education
- Open cabinet meeting transcript, March 15, 2002
- The Life Sciences Initiative: A provincial strategy to increase physician supply [PDF 491kb]
- A Collaborative Approach to Expanding Medical Education [PDF 246kb]