On Monday, a group of students, who came here by way of UBC’s medical undergraduate’s Integrated Community Clerkship program, spoke to City Council about coming to Fort St. John for experience in medical training at the local hospital.
Started in 2004, six communities in BC have been taking third-year students in for a year to work at their hospitals/care clinics — Chilliwack, Terrace, Cowichan Valley, Trail, Vernon, and of course, Fort St. John.
In Fort St. John, the hospital is on it’s 7th team of students, having started accepting them in 2008.
Taneille Johnson grew up in Charlie Lake, and spoke about the support she felt coming back to the community after a few years being away.
“I chose Fort St. John because I knew I’d get the support I needed to become a physician,” she said.
The other students were formerly from the Lower Mainland, but found other parts of the province to call home before saying the same about Fort St. John.
Jeanette Madsen was raised in Mission, and earned her undergraduate in Kelowna before heading north.
Brett McCarthy grew up in Chilliwack, but said he lived in many different places because his father, an RCMP officer, was often re-located.
Langley-raised James Vanderhoorst took the opportunity as a chance to gain valuable, hands-on experience in a small market — his wife was raised in Smithers, and he also saw it as a good opportunity to take on small-town living for himself, along with her and their 2-month old daughter.
The students said they came here a year ago to take a tour of the town before committing to the ICC, with Councillor Larry Evans as their guide. The tour seemed to win them over, as they now call the city their home.
UBC Residency and ICC Director Kim Furlong said UNBC also offers a Northern Medical Program, in partnership with UBC, at the Fort St. John Hospital.
In this program, students can stay and work at a hospital for extended periods at a time — generally, 2 years for family medicine, and longer other specific practices.