About the Island Medical Program
UBC's MD Undergraduate Program distributes the four-year UBC MD curriculum across four geographically distinct sites. The program is part of a long-term strategy to address shortages of physicians in British Columbia, particularly in rural, remote, coastal, and Indigenous communities, where healthcare needs are most acute.
This province-wide initiative is powered by advanced technology. Each university campus, clinical academic campus, and affiliated regional centre is equipped with video-conferencing equipment, linking them all together. This network allows faculty to host teaching sessions with students and residents from any of these locations. All medical students are simultaneously engaged in the same interactive learning sessions and complete the same curriculum requirements.
Over 900 clinical teachers across Vancouver Island are involved in the medical education and training of IMP students. First- and second-year classrooms are located in the Medical Sciences Building on UVic's campus. Third- and fourth-year students train at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals; at affiliated regional centres in Duncan, Nanaimo, Comox, and Campbell River; and in community-based health centres in Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Tofino, and Salt Spring Island.
IMP students are admitted through the same process as their peers in the Northern Medical Program (NMP), Southern Medical Program (SMP), and Vancouver Fraser Medical Program (VFMP). All MD graduates receive a UBC MD degree.
Launching the UBC MD program's distributed sites
In 2004, UBC's Faculty of Medicine expanded its MD undergraduate program from Vancouver to across the province. Its goal: to address the urgent need for doctors in underserved areas around British Columbia.
To begin, UBC launched the Island Medical Program at the University of Victoria and the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern British Columbia. In 2011, they launched the Southern Medical Program at UBC's Okanagan campus in Kelowna. With the SMP, UBC has a total of four sites, including the original Vancouver Fraser Medical Program, located at UBC in Vancouver.
This distributed program, the first in Canada, created new opportunities for medical education across BC. It more than doubled the number of medical students and established medical education sites around the province, including more than 80 hospitals and clinical sites. It involves thousands of clinical teachers who balance their own medical practices with providing clinical training and mentorship.
Medical education has flourished on Vancouver Island since 2005, when the first IMP students arrived in Victoria. We have dedicated leadership, faculty, and staff. We have committed healthcare professionals providing superb medical training and guidance. And we have excellent students - bright, hardworking, engaged in the community, and well on their way to becoming the next generation of physicians to tackle the healthcare needs of people on Vancouver Island and across BC.
A message from Dr. Bruce Wright, Regional Associate Dean
When UBC launched its distributed MD Undergraduate Program, in 2004, the Island Medical Program (IMP) was born. Our goal at the IMP is to increase the number of doctors practicing on Vancouver Island.
And that’s happening. IMP graduates are returning to practice in many Island communities, including Duncan, Nanaimo, Comox, and Campbell River. We're also offering more postgraduate training programs, which means that more IMP graduates are staying here to complete their medical residencies. This news is promising: research shows that doctors are more likely to stay where they've trained.
A program this complex, and a vision this bold, are possible only with the support of strong partners. Island Health and UVic continue to play a significant role in our success. We’re also grateful to our private donors, community members, academic and clinical faculty, and staff. All have shown tremendous dedication to the IMP, our students, our residents - and, ultimately, to better healthcare on Vancouver Island.
Regional Associate Dean, Island Medical Program (UBC)
Head, Division of Medical Sciences (UVic)