Auroras over a lake near Yellowknife

Yellowknife Family Medicine Residency

Welcome to the Family Medicine Residency Program - Yellowknife at the University of Alberta.

Contact Us

Dr. David Pontin
Site Co-Director

Dr. Hannah Shoichet
Site Co-Director

April Lau
Site Administrator
867.767.9105 ext. 40232


Site Co-Director

Dr. David Pontin


Site Co-Director

Dr. Hannah Shoichet


Site Administrator

April Lau

Our Program


We are a rural and remote family medicine training stream within the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta. We believe that the Northwest Territories (NWT) is a fantastic location to train family physicians to be practice ready for any community in Canada! We are also proud to be Canada's only residency program based out of a circumpolar region.

Residents will be based out of Yellowknife and will have rotations in Nunavut, Alberta as well as a variety of NWT communities including Inuvik. Inuvik is located north of the Arctic Circle in the heart of the Mackenzie Delta. With its tight knit and welcoming physician group, Inuvik has been welcoming medical learners (students and residents) for nearly 20 years and is well placed to provide an exceptional family medicine residency experience. Residents will also be linked to smaller and more remote NWT communities to provide ongoing care in those communities throughout your residency.  Some of these smaller communities are fly-in or winter road access only!

For more information about everything Yellowknife and area has to offer, visit the Extraordinary Yellowknife website.


Program Highlights

Residents will have the opportunity and privilege of working with and learning Indigenous health and remote medicine from the diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Metis populations that we serve.

Yellowknife, the capital of NWT and located on the north shore of Great Slave Lake, offers a multicultural, artistic and welcoming city experience with a small town feel where opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts abound.

Stanton Territorial Hospital, the referral hospital for all of the NWT and the western third of Nunavut, has a catchment area that is geographically vast (nearly 18% of Canada's landmass) and encompasses a heterogeneous population with complex health, and psychosocial needs.

Our interdisciplinary model of medicine in the NWT will have residents interact with specialist physicians and other health care professionals on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis throughout their two years here leading to a continuous longitudinal educational experience in all areas of medicine.

The program will be a mixture of integrated and blocked learning.  Residents will stay connected with fellow U of A residents through in-person workshops and via remote connections to online training and meeting opportunities.

Residents are responsible for their own housing in Yellowknife.  However, a northern living allowance will be paid to each resident monthly during their residency to help offset the higher cost of living in the NWT. Funding is provided for housing for rotations outside of Yellowknife.  Accommodations while on rotation could be an apartment, condo or a house. These accommodations are large enough for a couple and many are suitable for families. Please note that some of the small community sites may take advantage of sleeping quarters at the health centre or bed and breakfasts which are only suitable for single occupancy. The program will fund travel expenses for community rotations and mandatory activities.

Residency at a Glance

Learn about each year of the program with an overview of each year.



Family Medicine Blocktime – 16 weeks
Integrated with Obstetrics, Emergency Medicine, Hospitalist, and community visits

General Surgery – 4 weeks

Pediatrics – 4 weeks

Anesthesia – 2 weeks

Psychiatry – 2 weeks 

Family Medicine Community Block – 8 weeks
Rotation to be completed in Iqaluit, NT.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine – 4 weeks
Rotation to be completed in Edmonton.

Electives – 4 weeks

The first 16 weeks of the residency program will be spent in an integrated family medicine block where the resident will have a mixture of clinic days with their Faculty Advisor (and other preceptors) along with obstetrics, emergency medicine and hospitalist rounds.  The residents will also spend time learning about the NWT through dedicated Cultural training days and meeting with elders and leaders in your linked communities.

An additional eight weeks will be spent on Family Medicine Community block in Iqaluit, NU where the residents will do a mixture of clinic and rural emergency medicine and take part in remote travel clinics.

The remainder of the first year consists of four specialty rotations in Yellowknife and one specialty rotation in Edmonton.  The rotations have been designed to facilitate exposure to a wide variety of acute conditions and to the acquisition of procedural skills.  Specialty rotations in Edmonton may occasionally be shared with specialty residents from Calgary or Edmonton.  However, learning is preceptor-based, ensuring more than adequate access to clinical cases combined with individual teaching.  Teaching is one-on-one as much as possible.  Some services in Yellowknife are not dependent on the presence of house staff, with on-call usually being from home and the learning experience focused on education.



Family Medicine Blocktime - 20 weeks
Integrated with Psychiatry, Long Term Care, Orthopedics/Sports Medicine, and community visits.

Women’s Health – 4 weeks

Emergency Medicine – 4 weeks

Intensive Care – 4 weeks
Rotation to be completed in Edmonton.

Trauma – 4 weeks
Rotation to be completed in Edmonton.

Geriatrics/Palliative care – 4 weeks
Rotation to be completed in Edmonton.

Family Medicine Community Block – 8 weeks
Community block time will take place in the community of Inuvik, NT.  

Electives – 4 weeks

The focus of the second year is on the integrated 20-week family medicine block with Psychiatry, Long Term Care, Orthopedics and Sports Medicine while continuing to visit the linked small community on a regular basis. Another 8 weeks will be spent in Canada’s most northern hospital in the community of Inuvik doing clinic, emergency medicine and obstetrics.  These family medicine blocks are designed to further develop the resident as a rural family medicine physician, building on the skills acquired from the first year. These rotations provide further opportunities to experience comprehensive medicine and continuity of care in rural and remote settings.

Eight weeks will be spent in Edmonton on an Intensive Care and Trauma rotation while 4 weeks will be spent on a Geriatrics and Palliative care rotation. Back in Yellowknife 4 weeks will be dedicated to Women’s Health and Emergency Medicine each.

Four weeks of elective time are available in the first and second years.  This allows residents to tailor the postgraduate experience to ensure they are confident and competent to meet community needs.  Interprovincial and international electives are available with permission from the Residency Program Committee.

Teaching Hospitals

The family medicine program utlizes a number of different teaching hospitals and locations across Alberta.

Check Out All Our Learning Sites

float plane stop

Besides Yellowknife, other training sites will include Inuvik, Iqaluit, with the possibility of practicing in Fort Smith, Hay River, and Fort Simpson. Inuvik is located north of the Arctic Circle in the heart of the Mackenzie Delta.  With its tight knit and welcoming physician group, Inuvik has been welcoming medical learners (students and residents) for nearly 20 years and is well placed to provide an exceptional family medicine residency experience.  While in Iqaluit, NU residents will have the opportunity to complete Arctic communities of 300-500 people.  Fort Smith is located close to the Alberta border and is the gateway to the Wood Buffalo National Park. Hay River is located on the south shore of the mighty Great Slave Lake while Fort Simpson is nestled in between the Nahanni Mountain and the mighty Mackenzie River. Residents will also be linked to smaller and more remote NWT communities to provide ongoing clinical care in those communities throughout your residency. Some of these smaller communities are fly-in or winter road access only!

Residents will also complete rotations in Edmonton and possibly Red Deer and Grande Prairie.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Yellowknife site good for couples matching?
Time spent away from the home base of Yellowknife is always going to be an issue for couple matches. However, R1s and R2s when travelling to Alberta will travel together, respectively. And we can make every effort to have R1 and R2 couples travel together on rural rotations; or at least have some overlap time in those locations so as to not have to spend too much time away from one another.
Northwest Territories does not operate a fee for service model of healthcare (for the most part). How does this affect the learning opportunities for residents?
In fee for service models residents will experience a higher volume of patients, however, our preceptors will be focused on your learning and multiple preceptors will be willing to bring you in for interesting cases and take the time to give you that one on one attention. Our model is less of a serviced based learning environment, and more of a one-on-one learning environment.
I have reservations since Yellowknife is a new Residency site.

The Northwest Territories has been actively teaching medical learners for many years and we have long-standing agreements with a number of Universities as an elective site. Our preceptors, support staff, and community are excited to be able to commit the necessary time and energy into our very own Medical Residents. In the first years of Yellowknife being a residency site, we will want to work closely with our residents to ensure the program is working, and meeting the needs of our residents. Each resident will be an active player in the program so you can get the most out of your two years with us. With our residents’ help, this program will train great family physicians with the abilities and the confidence to work anywhere in Canada!

I have heard that the cost of living in Yellowknife is a lot higher. Is that true?
Yes. Living north of the 60th parallel does increase the cost of living. Housing, utilities, and sometimes groceries do cost more. In response, we have increased the Northern living allowance to help offset some of those costs per year for our residents.
I may feel isolated in Yellowknife.
The residency program ensures that you will have winter vacations to be able to see family and friends. Residents travel to Alberta for a couple months per year for rotations and for workshops with your fellow rural residents. This gives you a chance to get out of the Territories, recharge, and network with your colleagues. We have all 4 of our residents start the year off in Yellowknife to be able to attend training sessions and mingling events together. Yellowknife is also a very welcoming community with many activities for you to join and make connections to feel less isolated.

Resident Testimonials

We asked our residents what they like about Yellowknife, their highlights of the program, and one piece of advice for applicants about the interview process. Here is what a few of them had to say.

What do you like about Yellowknife:
Yellowknife is the territorial capital and the regional medical centre that services a vast geographical area of NWT and regions of Nunavut, so we care for a wide variety of patient populations. Everything in Yellowknife is easily accessible but we have lots of big city amenities that make living and training here really enjoyable. The cross-country skiing and fat-biking in the winter is amazing and there are so many lakes and trails for canoeing, hiking and biking on our long almost-midnight sun summers.

What are the highlights of the program for you:
Everyone involved in this program has been so supportive and excited to have residents, and this positivity around learners and trainees in the medical community has a big impact on your clinical experience. We really are treated like colleagues and given the kind of attention I've rarely experienced elsewhere - where our preceptors are actively teaching us to be the best colleagues we can be. We have a lot of responsibility in patient care and hands-on procedures, but I always feel like I have guidance and support if needed. No shortages of opportunities for learning and experience in a regional care centre with only a few residents and medical students!

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process:
You are interviewing programs as much as they are interviewing you! If you go into meetings with this attitude, you will figure out which programs feel like a good fit for you. Take a deep breath, be honest and authentic, and ask the residents lots of questions about their opinions and experiences of their program!.

– Dr. Kajsa Heyes (R1, Yellowknife)

What do you like about Yellowknife:
The Yellowknife site has diverse training opportunities and provides unique perspectives on healthcare delivery. It is a hybrid between rural and urban practice; Stanton hospital is a territorial referral centre for the NWT and western Nunavut with specialists, but lacking some specialties and all subspecialties. There are also a lot of opportunities for training in smaller, more remote communities, including some amazing fly-in communities that the residents here are paired up with during our 2 years. We also spend 2 months in Fort Smith and 2 months in Inuvik. We are based in Yellowknife for about 2/3 of the residency program and have the opportunity to integrate with the tight-knit community here and have the time to take advantage of the many easily accessible outdoor recreation opportunities here, including cross country ski trails accessible from the hospital and from downtown. Many believe Yellowknife is a small town in the remote hinterland, but we have cafes, a brewery and a surprisingly large selection of restaurants.

What are the highlights of the program for you:
As a site that isn't service-based, we can take advantage of as many learning opportunities as we want that aren't necessarily strictly part of our current rotation. For example, if there is something unique or exciting going on in General Surgery while we are on Obstetrics, we have the option of participating in it if it doesn't interfere with other clinical activities we are already involved in. The site is also very resident-focused, with exceptional one-on-one teaching and the maximizing of learning opportunities that focus on our needs. There is very little busy-work of rounding on straightforward patients if it doesn't advance our learning, or of filling out paperwork for completing other clerical tasks that take us away from patient care. Our preceptors are great at identifying where we can get the most out of our learning and from my experience, have been happy to complete some of these less learning-focused tasks so that we don't have to! We also get a huge amount of one-on-one time with our local specialists and on the phone with consultant specialists in Edmonton, which isn't always the typical resident experience. Another highlight is being part of a new program that welcomes feedback and allows flexibility on the fly as it is shaped for the future.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process: I'm not sure if I can give the best advice for video conference interviews; however, generally speaking there are a lot of interview prep resources out there for interview practice that can be overwhelming with their long lists of abstract questions. I think you will do just fine if you focus on the main prompts that are on these sheets and on the CaRMS website, ie. speaking well about your CV and who you are, as well as to why you are interested in the particular program you are interviewing for. I was nervous and shaky for many of my interviews, as many applicants are, but overall the interviewers do a great job of reducing some of these anxieties and they really just want to get a sense of who you are and what you're about. The vast majority of interviewers were very welcoming and kind. I also found that my best interviews were when I had genuine conversations about topics not necessarily included in the interview station prompt and I believe that these genuine connections with the interviewers helped me stand out for these programs. And it wasn't that I broke convention and strayed completely from information they were hoping to learn: many of the interviewers initiated these tangents! If the interviewers do so during the interview, run with it and make the most of it to show how you are unique.

– Dr. Thomsen D’Hont (R1, Yellowknife)