University of British Columbia - Family Medicine - Kelowna Rural


Program Director

Dr. Jade Dittaro & Dr. Greg Handrigan


Site Coordinator

Janice Demers

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This residency program is for 2 years.

Program length of training does not exceed the Royal College or College of Family Physicians of Canada standard.


The Kelowna Rural program takes place over two years and is well-suited to individuals who would like to work in a rural or small city setting. Individuals with personality traits of independence, self-direction, adventurousness and self-motivation will thrive in this environment. Also, if you are willing to travel throughout BC and the territories and experience medical training at various locations with limited resources, then this opportunity is for you. The benefits include a wide exposure to acute and chronic medicine and lots of ‘hands-on’ experiences.

The first year is designed to prepare Kelowna Rural residents for their more remote second-year experience. During R1, residents rotate through a variety of foundational specialties in both community- and hospital-based environments. All rotations incorporate the resident as a physician and you work as part of a team. Residents experience longitudinal family practice care with weekly half-days spent in community-based FP clinics in addition to an 8-week core family practice block. Additional longitudinal experiences may be sought in ER, anesthesia, addictions and obstetrics depending on a resident’s interests. Kelowna Rural residents train alongside the four residents of the Kelowna Regional program, a new site established in Kelowna in 2020.

The R2 is spent primarily in rural communities throughout British Columbia. Residents complete two, 16-week blocks in two different rural communities, such as Bella Coola, Creston, Grand Forks, Lillooet, Masset, Port McNeill, Queen Charlotte, Revelstoke, 100 Mile House, Cranbrook, Gibsons, Inuvik, Powell River, Smithers, Golden, Invermere & Vanderhoof. Four weeks of R2 are spent doing a trauma or an emergency rotation. Residents are allotted an additional 8 weeks in which they are encouraged to pursue elective experiences in areas of focused interest or meeting self-identified learning goals. The R2 year finishes back in Kelowna with a 4-week ‘Transition to Practice’ block.

During the second year, residents may also be expected to travel to Vancouver and/or Kelowna for academic time (e.g., Essential Surgical Skills Course; HOUSE ultrasound) and for resident scholar day. This, along with travel for exams, conferences, and other commitments means that Kelowna Rural residents are on the road a lot more than in other programs.

Residents who do well in our program enjoy self-directed learning — meaning they are comfortable working in a hospital where they need to take the initiative to get involved with patient care to meet their personal learning needs. In the R1 year, because we are not a fully service-based hospital, the level of responsibility may be less on some rotations (compared to other programs). In the R2 year, however, responsibility is close to the level of a practicing rural physician (with support of course).

Purpose / Objectives

As reflected in the Department's Mission Statement, we welcome applicants who are committed to meeting the needs of rural and semi-rural communities throughout British Columbia and Canada. We train residents to be prepared for full-service Family Practice including Obstetrics. This site specifically trains residents to practice in rural and semi-rural areas, utilizing experienced and community-based faculty as mentors.

Our Principles are:

  • We provide community-based training.

  • We encourage experiential learning in an academically monitored environment.

  • We foster self-confidence and skills necessary to allow graduates to function effectively in a family practice setting.

  • We encourage residents to learn how to balance their personal needs with the demands of family practice.

  • We are committed to ongoing evaluation of the outcome and effectiveness of our Training Program.

The Rural Training Program

The Kelowna Rural Training Program is ideal for you if you have:

  • Motivation to practice in rural, remote, and/or international locations.

  • Commitment to meet medical needs of these types of communities.

  • Understanding of and an interest in full-service family medicine.

  • Good interpersonal and communication skills, and also the ability to be self-directed.

  • Reference letters which attest to your ability and interest in family medicine, as well as your specific interest in rural medicine.

  • A willingness to travel to rural sites for training. (The sites are varied and are located throughout the BC along with a training site in Inuvik, NWT.)

  • The ability to adapt to learning in a non-traditional, non-academic centre in2nd

  • The ability to function psychologically and socially in remote settings in 2nd

  • The ability to take rational risks ('Rational Risk Takers'), while maintaining a sense of professionalism.

  • A strong sense of social justice and accountability.

  • An interest in International Medicine.

Academic Days and Research

Residents attend mandatory academic activities — usually a half day per week. This includes academic teaching that is a mix of clinical case discussions, core topics, behavioural medicine and hands-on practical sessions (e.g., resident-led SIM, suturing, beside ultrasound). Residents are also expected to teach their peers during this time. Academic time is dedicated to resident-led wellness initiatives on a monthly basis. Second-year residents receive academic teaching available at their particular sites, through video-conferenced sessions from Kelowna and an ‘R2 Academic Week’ to help prepare them for licensing exams.

Throughout the program, we stress "Evidence-Based Medicine" in both academic and clinical areas.

Residents complete a quality improvement project (QIP) in the first year and, over the course of two years, a resident scholar project that is presented at a regional Scholar Day held in the final month of residency.

International Electives

Residents can do one month of interprovincial or international electives during their training.

Further Training

Residents of the Rural Okanagan program receive additional funding to pursue supplementary training courses (e.g., ATLS) to prepare for the demands of practicing in rural communities with more limited supports.

Enhanced skills training (e.g., emergency medicine, palliative care, care of the elderly) are available at various sites throughout BC, but are not offered in Kelowna.

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