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Family Medicine

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

 

Contact Us

Dr. Valentin Duta
Site Co-Director

Dr. Brad Martin
Site Co-Director

Jane Schotz
Site Administrator
rfmgp@ualberta.ca

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Dr. Valentin Duta
Site Co-Director

sitedirector_brad_gp.png

Dr. Brad Martin
Site Co-Director

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Jane Schotz
Site Admin

Our Program

Grande Prairie is a rural family medicine training stream within the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta. The City of Grande Prairie is home base for our residency program. Located about 450 km northwest of Edmonton, with a population of about 70,000 people, Grande Prairie is the economic hub of the “Peace Country”. We strongly believe that future rural physicians should train in the setting in which they will practice. Residents graduating from the Grande Prairie site universally report that they have gained the knowledge and skills required to confidently practice in any community in Canada. The Grande Prairie site is distinctly non-service-based. Residents select clinical duties based specifically for their learning value, and are given the flexibility to tailor clinical duties to their individual learning needs. With only one family medicine resident on a given service at any one time, there is little or no competition for procedures or other important learning opportunities. Residents also enjoy tremendous flexibility when selecting call days and holiday time. With regard to life outside of medicine, the City of Grande Prairie is large enough to offer an extremely wide array of amenities, while still maintaining its small-town feel. It offers a great variety of recreational and leisure pursuits, (including sports, music, and theatre) in addition to a wide range of shopping and dining options. Some Grande Prairie highlights include the Wapiti Nordic Ski Area, the Bear Creek Folk Music Festival, and the Eastlink Centre recreational complex.In addition, Grande Prairie offers easy access to the beauty and recreational opportunities found in nearby mountain wilderness areas. For more information about everything the Grande Prairie area has to offer, visit the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association website.

You can also visit this site for more information specific to the municipality and healthcare services in Grande Prairie.

 

 



Program Highlights

40 weeks of training within rural communities with flexibility in choosing specific rural communities, tailoring their choices to individual learning needs and future practice goals.

As a small program, Grande Prairie residents will develop close, supportive relationships with their fellow residents, as well as with preceptors and administrative staff.

Our program prides itself on the support we provide to our residents, as well as our emphasis on the well-being of residents and their families.

Strong academics include Academic Days, Emergency department Ultrasound course, CASTED Course (hands-on orthopedic training), ALARM Course (critical care obstetrics) and Critical care simulations and procedures.

Residents have the opportunity to be actively involved in the teaching of medical students and to form mentoring relationships with them, with a small group of medical students from the University of Alberta choosing to be placed in Grande Prairie for 8 months during their final year.

Accommodation is provided for residents at all rural sites outside of Grande Prairie, and expenses for travel to and from the home site of Grande Prairie are covered by the program.


Residency at a Glance

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

 

PGY1
  • Family Medicine (regional) - 4 weeks
  • Rural Family Medicine - 16 weeks
  • Anesthesia - 3 weeks
  • Electives - 5 weeks
  • General Surgery - 8 weeks
  • Obstetrics & Gynecology - 8 weeks
  • Orthopedics - 4 weeks
  • Pediatrics - 4 weeks
  • Continuity Clinics - 0.5 day per week
PGY2
  • Rural Family Medicine - 16 weeks
  • Rural Family Medicine - 8 weeks
  • Electives - 8 weeks
  • Emergency - 8 weeks + 1 week integrated Palliative Care
  • Psychiatry - 4 weeks
  • Internal Medicine - 8 weeks
Electives
Five weeks of elective time are available in the first year and 8 weeks in the second year. This allows residents to tailor the postgraduate experience to meet the needs of the communities that they expect to serve. Interprovincial and international electives are available with the permission of 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

GPRH

 

Grande Prairie
  • The City of Grande Prairie is home base for our residency program. Located about 450 km northwest of Edmonton, with a population of about 70,000 people, Grande Prairie is the economic hub of the “Peace Country” of northwestern Alberta and northeastern B.C. The economy is driven by the oil and gas industry, forestry, and agriculture. Grande Prairie’s modern airport offers several flights per day to Edmonton and Calgary.

  • The brand-new 172-bed Grande Prairie Regional Hospital will open in the December of 2021 and will be the site of all hospital-based resident training in Grande Prairie. It is a regional referral centre with a catchment area of approximately 300,000, and offers most specialty services. Family Physicians in Grande Prairie provide a substantial amount of inpatient care, as well as care within the Emergency Department. Royal College specialists often perform a traditional “consultant” role. The practice of medicine in Grande Prairie offers an example of efficient and effective coordination of care between family physicians and their specialist colleagues.
  • With regard to life outside of medicine, the city of Grande Prairie is large enough to offer an extremely wide array of amenities, while still maintaining its small-town feel. It offers a great variety of recreational and leisure pursuits, (including sports, music, and theatre) in addition to a wide range of shopping and dining options. Some Grande Prairie highlights include the Wapiti Nordic Ski Area, the Bear Creek Folk Music Festival, and the Eastlink Centre recreational complex.

  • In addition, Grande Prairie offers easy access to the beauty and recreational opportunities found in nearby mountain wilderness areas such as Grande Cache (2 hours), Tumbler Ridge, (3 hours) and Jasper (4 hours).

  • Grande Prairie is also an excellent community in which to raise a family. In addition to strong schools (with French Immersion options), Grande Prairie offers almost every imaginable recreational activity for children of all ages, all within a community that you can drive through in 15 minutes.
Rural Sites
  • Rural sites are specifically chosen for the quality of learning opportunities available. These sites are generally medium-sized communities with active surgical and obstetrical programs in addition to a high-volume emergency department. Residents will train with experienced full-service rural family physician preceptors. The length of each rural placement allows residents the opportunity to follow a panel of their own patients, with progressively increasing independence and responsibility.

  • Outside of their training, residents often find that they become quite integrated into the local community, and are able to take advantage of the unique social and recreational opportunities available at each site.

  • Residents enjoy considerable flexibility in their choice of rural site, and usually receive their first or second choice.


Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you do your rotations? Is it all in GP?
All of our rotations are based out of Grande Prairie except for our rural family medicine blocks which vary in distance from GP (from a half hour drive to halfway across the province). Residents have a lot of say in terms of where they do their rural family medicine block as well and can choose what fits best with their learning goals.
Are you exposed to a wide breadth of presentations (i.e. true rural medicine)?
The breadth of family medicine is massive here! When you choose where you want to do your rural family medicine block, you can tailor your learning to your goals since each site has its strengths (e.g. some sites have a higher volume of deliveries). As far as I know, most sites include emergency medicine as well. There is also elective time to fill in any gaps you think you still have. For example, I am currently on my rural family medicine block and in one day, I intubated a child, closed a carpal tunnel release, helped deliver a baby, was involved in starting suboxone for an incarcerated patient, and did some bread and butter family medicine (abdo pain, UTI, etc.). If that's not a huge scope, then I don't know what is!
What is there to do in GP when you're not working?

COVID has put quite the damper on community engagement but, having lived here prior as well, I can speak to some of the fun activities in the area. For outdoorsy stuff, there is hiking, camping, fishing, and lakes. For sports, there is a tennis club, Eastlink Center (Google it!), a variety of golf clubs, and much more. There is also an extensive trail system along the river that is great for walking, biking, or disc golf! For more relaxing outings, there is a board game cafe, cat cafe, pottery cafe, mini golf, a variety of local coffee shops, a jump yard, and a lot of other cool hangout spots. There's also a farmer's market downtown with locally made goodies. All of the above is just off the top of my head! For more information about everything the Grande Prairie area has to offer, visit the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association website.

How much time do you spend doing rural family medicine?
In first year, you do a 4-month block at a rural site. In second year, you do a total of 6 months. You also have elective time that you could choose to do rurally as well.
How is your mental health supported?
You can take your vacation days when it works best for you, whether that is an entire month off or a couple days here and there for some long weekends. The site directors and administrator are very approachable and available no matter what you want/need to talk to them about. We also get a free annual pass to the local recreational center! When life throws you a curveball, it is easy to contact someone and rearrange your schedule if needed with very few hoops or red tape.
Do you have a general surgery block?
We do a 2-month rotation on general surgery which some medical students may see as a "con" of the program. Conversely, I found my general surgery rotation to be very helpful for two reasons. First, the staff that I worked with really focused their teaching on what was relevant to a rural family doctor so I wasn't bogged down in minutia or detailed surgical anatomy. Second, I was exposed to a high volume of surgical presentations like small bowel obstruction and appendicitis. Seeing a lot of potentially surgical abdomens really helped me develop my ability to identify a surgical abdomen.

Resident Testimonials

We asked our residents what they like about Grande Prairie, 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.

 

Ingram

What do you like about Grande Prairie:
Grande Prairie offers a really great mix of rural and regional experiences that leaves you feeling confident and competent to work in any environment.

What are the highlights of the program for you:
It is a small program which offers a lot of flexibility to tailor your learning to your interests, needs and lifestyle.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process:
Just be yourself.

– Dr. Krista Ingram (R2, Grande Prairie)

 

Kuzyk

What do you like about Grande Prairie:
Grande Prairie has really become a home to me. It has all the amenities one could want with a large local business environment. Some of my favorite places to visit is Jeffrey's Cafe, Sheppard's fold, and The Scoop ice cream shop. The community is extremely welcoming with a small town feel. It is a quick trip to many outdoor adventures as well!  In my first month we were tubing down the Wapiti river, which is a definite must experience. The mountains are a short drive away for hiking and exploring. In winter there are extensive cross country ski trails that are well known and maintained. The medicine and training are evidence based and resident-centric. The preceptors are dedicated and always excited to teach. I was able to do an elective in Grande Prairie in my fourth year of medical school and was beyond excited to continue my residency at this site.

What are the highlights of the program for you:

  1. I get to know and become friends with a tight-knit group of residents. 
  2. One to one staff to resident teaching. Specialists really get to know the residents, with great team dynamics.
  3. Grande Prairie is a beautiful place to live
  4. The new hospital! Disclaimer- I have not been inside of it yet, but it does sound exciting. 
  5. Our program director and staff admin (Jane) are amazing and are great at advocating on the residents behalf-especially during a pandemic.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process:
As repetitive as it sounds, be yourself. When I was going through the interview process, I found it very nerve-racking. However, the interviews that I thrived in gave me the opportunity to present my personality. Have fun, and get to know the residents at the places you are applying. They will be your real family for the next two years, and your on-call backup even after that!

– Dr. Julia Kuzyk (R1, Grande Prairie)

 

Johnson

What do you like about Grande Prairie?
The site itself has the perfect blend of opportunities for growth in family medicine with the young and growing community with abundant access to the outdoors and no shortage of activities for recreation outside of work. In terms of the learning opportunities, it is a small program and as such you become known as one of the local residents and become integrated into the teams caring for patients very quickly. This means that you become an essential member more quickly and feel more responsibility which produces a lot of personal growth over what is a really short two year program. Because of our distance from tertiary centers, we have to be very comfortable with critical care and have to keep patients who are too unstable to be transported because of the time it takes to transport them, therefore we get a really broad exposure to both core family medicine and low frequency high acuity events so that we are thoroughly prepared for rural practice when we are done. Outside of medicine, the city itself has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor opportunities whether that be at our local ski hill, cross country ski trails, open roads for cycling, lakes for camping and fishing, or the mountains only a short drive away for hiking. Even if you’re not a particularly outdoorsy person there’s quite a vibrant local arts community. Everything is on a smaller scale because of the size of the community but the passion for those things is still very high.

What are the highlights of the program for you:
The small size of the program necessitates that we are a very close group and come to know each other very well. This creates a real community feeling and a feeling of mutual support between all of the residents. The small size of the medical community here makes you feel part of the team very quickly and also allows you to ask questions of specialists even outside of those core rotations with interesting cases that come up to enhance your learning. The internal medicine rotation here is very strong because there is a focus on ICU for critical care skills and the remainder of the rotation is consultation-based with no daily ward work required. Finally, we have our pick of a wide range of communities and practice styles across northern Alberta for our rural rotations which allows us to pick communities for training that match the practice we want to have in the future so that we are trained as well as possible on graduating.

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process:
Just trust yourself. It is very easy to be intimidated by all of the outstanding people around you, but just remember that you had to be an outstanding person to get into medicine and you have all the skills and attributes you need to be a successful resident in whatever program you choose. It will feel impossible to relax, but if you think back to before you got into medicine you will remember that you would’ve given anything at that time to be in the position you are in now, and hopefully that little bit of gratitude will help you feel more comfortable as you go through this process. I know it helped me. Best of luck! We look forward to meeting you.

– Dr. Evan Johnson (R2, Grande Prairie)

 

Funk

What do you like about Grande Prairie:
First and foremost, I love the stunning landscape, wide open spaces, and fresh air in the Peace Country. For outdoorsy stuff, there is hiking, camping, fishing, and lakes. For sports, there is a tennis club, the Eastlink Center (Google it!), a variety of golf clubs, and much more. There is also an extensive trail system along the river that is great for walking, biking, or disc golf! For more relaxing outings, there is a board game cafe, cat cafe, pottery cafe, mini golf, a variety of local coffee shops, a jump yard, and a lot of other cool hangout spots. There's also a farmer's market downtown with locally made goodies. All of the above is just off the top of my head!

What are the highlights of the program for you:
1) Quality over Quantity: Fewer residents means you are first in line to be involved and you quickly become a familiar member of the team.
2) Flexibility/Mental Health: You have a lot of control of when your vacation days are scheduled so you can spread them out or take them all at once.
3) Rural Family Medicine First: We have a lot of block time dedicated to rural family medicine and when you are on specialty rotations, your teaching is centered around what you need to know to be a good rural family doctor.
4) Massive Scope of Practice: I am currently on my rural family medicine block and in one day, I intubated a child, closed a carpal tunnel release, helped deliver a baby, was involved in starting suboxone for an incarcerated patient, and did some bread and butter family medicine (abdo pain, UTI, etc.). If that's not a huge scope, then I don't know what is!

What is one piece of advice that you want to share with applicants about the interview process:
Present yourself in the way you would to future colleagues. You don't need to be stiff or use a ton of big words. You don't need to be serious the whole time. Treat the interview more like meeting a new friend at a coffee shop. Be kind and respectful but also show the things that make you unique like your sense of humor and the past experiences that make you who you are.
Also, when you are prepping for your interviews, make sure you have thought about your answers to the really common questions. Have a 2-3 point list for each of them in your head, and you'll be less likely to forget everything you want to say. For example, if the question is "Why family medicine?", your point list could be 1) anecdote from "x" elective, 2) continuity of care, and 3) breadth of practice. Some questions that I would suggest having answers ready for are:
1) Why family medicine?/ Tell us about the moment you decided you wanted to be a family doctor.
2) Why RURAL family medicine?
3) Tell us about a time where you demonstrated _________ (a CANMEDs role). For this one, try to think of 2-3 stories that fit multiple roles so you can alter them to fit the question.
4) Tell us about yourself. This is your chance to stand out. Tell them about your unique talent, something you are really passionate about outside of medicine, your dog, etc. Those things will be more memorable and relatable while helping you "build rapport" with your interviewers.
5) Tell us about a time you struggled/had a conflict and how you dealt with it. Be honest. If you didn't act the way you wish you had, express what you learned and how you've changed your approach moving forward. If you were struggling with your mental health, be open about it. If they don't appreciate your openness, they probably won't be a supportive program in that regard anyway.  

– Dr. Deanna Funk (R1, Grande Prairie)