Island Medical Program second-year student Emily Lerhe helps lead a small team providing contactless grocery delivery to vulnerable seniors in Victoria. (Photo courtesy of the Island Medical Program)

Island Medical Program second-year student Emily Lerhe helps lead a small team providing contactless grocery delivery to vulnerable seniors in Victoria. (Photo courtesy of the Island Medical Program)

Med students helping fill gaps across the Island

More than 60 UBC medical students are volunteering across Greater Victoria and the Island

Students from the Island Medical Program are helping check in with vulnerable patients, sterilize locally made faceshields and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 60 medical students from the University of British Columbia (UBC) are volunteering on Vancouver Island to boost health care efforts in local communities. Projects in this student-led initiative include working at the University of Victoria (UVic) to sterilize 3D-printed faceshields, assisting GPs with wellness checks over the phone for vulnerable patients, collecting donations for Island Health, providing contactless grocery delivery to seniors, while others are helping to address the impacts of COVID-19 on Victoria’s homeless population with an inner city response team.

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“We have quite a few students providing child care, pet care and grocery runs to frontline workers,” said volunteer coordinator Madelaine Beckett in a statement. “We’ve tried to match one student to one family, just to minimize the total number of contacts and risk of exposure.”

The Island Medical Program delivers the UBC MD program in collaboration with UVic and Island Health. Based at UVic and other affiliated health care centres across the Island, it is part of Canada’s undergraduate medical education program, which was created in 2004 to help address regional shortages in physicians.

“A program this complex, and a vision this bold, are possible only with the support of strong partners,” said Dr. Bruce Wright, UBC’s regional associate dean, Vancouver Island, faculty of medicine, and head of UVic’s division of medical sciences, in a statement. “More than 450 UBC MD students who graduated between 2000 and 2017 are now practising on the Island, 289 of which are family doctors.”

Medical students participate in almost 3,000 clinical rotations each year in health care facilities across the Island and in surrounding regions.


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