Volunteers Needed to Help Train Tomorrow’s Doctors

Will you help train tomorrow’s doctors? The Island Medical Program (IMP) needs community volunteers with chronic medical conditions to take part in the First Patient Program (FPtP). The FPtP pairs first-year medical students with volunteer patients, who help train the next generation of physicians by allowing students to attend several of their health-care appointments.

The program will run from January to November 2020 with some time off during the summer. Each volunteer is matched with two IMP students, and they will meet a minimum of six times over this 11-month period. These meetings include an initial at-home visit; three health-care appointments in different care environments; a check-in after the summer; and a final wrap-up appointment with the student pair and primary physician.

IMP student Anita Weng sits with volunteer patient Margaret. Margaret joined the program because her son is in medical school. After reflecting on her son’s experience, she felt it is was her “turn to help here and return the favour.” She also says that she appreciate how the program captures the humanity of medicine and allows students to “connect so much more.”

“In the First Patient Program, patients act as teachers and experts in their own health. By embedding students in the patients’ health care experience, students observe, learn, and practice skills that are difficult to teach in the classroom,” says Dr. Margaret Manville, Year 1 & 2 Family Medicine Director, IMP.

People with chronic conditions have unique healthcare needs. Their experiences and insights are invaluable for training empathetic, patient-centred, and effective doctors. By working with First Patient Program volunteers, students will learn more the importance of continuity of care and building a relationship with patients in medical practice. Students will also gain insight into how the volunteers manage their condition, and how it affects their social, mental, and emotional well-being.

“It’s an opportunity for students to learn about the human side of medicine: what it’s like living with chronic illness; what it’s like to navigate the medical system with this condition; and how it all impacts someone’s day-to-day life, their family, and their community,” says Karen Basi, Patient Programs Coordinator, IMP.

“Students begin to recognize opportunities to advocate for their patient and develop compassion for how their patient interacts with the health-care system,” adds Dr. Manville. “Many volunteers express that having students with them makes the appointments more interesting as they learned a lot more about their own health when the students were present.”

First Patient Program volunteers must be over the age of 19, reside in their own residence or in a semi-independent living arrangement, and have a primary physician overseeing their care.


For more information or to volunteer, call Karen Basi, Patient Programs Coordinator, IMP, at 250-370-8111 ext. 12386.

Deadline to apply is Nov. 22, 2019.


You can listen to Dr. Margaret Manville’s interview on the CBC’s All Points West with Robyn Burns here.