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Northern Medical Program celebrates 2024 graduating class

The latest batch of grads of UBC’s Northern Medical Program received their white coats today (Thursday) as part of their graduate ceremony.

This year, 35 students graduated from the Northern Medical Program, which is delivered in partnership with UNBC.

“We have an emphasis on training physicians for practice in rural communities, and of course we’re in a relatively remote community in Prince George and have rural communities all around us,” said Regional Associate Dean of the UBC Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Paul Winwood.

“Approximately two-thirds of our grads will be working or are working in smaller and rural communities across the country, and about 80 per cent of those are working in BC.”

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Winwood noted the grads are going into a variety of disciplines, such as paediatrics, psychiatry, and general surgery.

“For me, growing up in Northern BC, some of that time being in Prince George, and going to UNBC as my undergrad, and being interested in rural medicine, I think it was a no brainer,” said graduate Clay Kiiskala.

“The ability to train in the place where I want to end up, in Northern BC, and have that opportunity to be close to home makes all the difference.”

Kiiskala said he will be doing training in Quesnel, but he’s not sure where he wants to end up.

“I plan to do full-scope rural family medicine, not sure what community it will be, but it will be some small community in Northern BC,” he said.

Kiiskala added having the Northern Medical Program available at UNBC is important.

“The hands on experiences you get here is incredible, and being able to, for myself wanting to practice in Northern BC, and developing the relationships and the connections with not only physicians, but whole healthcare team at the hospital and in the community is really important, and establishing that and having that for folks who want to end up in the North is really important.”

Another graduate, Alex Benny, said it means a lot to him to graduate from the Northern Medical Program.

“Being from Prince George, born and raised here, did my undergrad here at UNBC, it was a great opportunity to continue doing my medical studies here at the Northern Medical Program, and able to be near my family and have their support throughout medical school,” he said.

Benny will be training in Radiation Oncology inthe Lower Mainland, and hopes to return to work at the BC Cancer Centre for the North.

“I think that’s it’s super meaningful to the patients we get to meet and hear their stories, and it’s a great opportunity to learn from people and talk with people and help people through very vulnerable times, I think it’s an incredible privilege to be involved in that,” he said.

“There’s also lots of ongoing research, as someone who’s really interested in research, I’m really grateful for those opportunities. There’s some intangible things where I really get along with the people who work at the cancer clinic, and so I think that’s got something to do with why I’m going into oncology as well.”

The students will walk the stage at UBC on May 22nd, where they will receive their medical degrees.

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