COVID-19 creating challenges for UBC Okanagan’s medical program | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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COVID-19 creating challenges for UBC Okanagan’s medical program

Image Credit: UBC Okanagan
September 19, 2021 - 6:09 PM

With the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and non-profits aren’t the only places experiencing a shortage of needed staff and volunteers.

The Southern Medical Program at UBC Okanagan is in need of female clinical teaching associates to assist in teaching medical students how to perform gynecological and breast exams.

The associates use their own bodies to teach second-year medical students how to foster respect, understanding, and a sense of comfort for patients while conducting sensitive physical exams.

Tanya Burke, program patient programs coordinator, said in these sessions, the associates are both patients and instructors.

READ MORE: Some Kamloops, Okanagan businesses temporarily closing, adjusting hours due to staff shortages

Ideally, they need to fill six positions, she said. Associates range in their experience, from general community members to trained nurses.

“It’s really important that we be able to run the program so we’re hoping to fill any positions,” she said.

The pandemic is likely influencing people’s comfort levels to want to join the program.

“It’s just been that much more difficult to get people to come in and commit and be a part of the program,” Burke said.

If they can’t fill the positions, the student learning will have to be spread out over a longer time period throughout the year with smaller groups of students, she said.

“Anyone could possibly be a CTA, as long as they process the training and there are some other skills that are vital so you need someone who has strong communication skills and who has a high degree of comfort with their own body,” she said.

The associate two-day training sessions includes: anatomy, medical terminology, physician-patient communication, and physical exam skills. The training also includes team-building exercises, large and small group workshops, and hands-on curriculum practice.

They’re hoping to find associates for this fall season, but are also looking for people for next year, Burke said.

“This program is really essential for the medical students, for us training future doctors, for them to become more comfortable to build trusting relationships with their patients,” Burke said.

Teaching sessions for the upcoming fall semester will be held Thursday mornings during September and October at the Clinical Academic Campus at Kelowna General Hospital.

To learn more, email Burke at or visit UBCO’s website here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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