Why UBC?

If you are thinking of applying to our program, you may have had a chance to look at our curriculum on the CaRMS website and have come to realize that most programs look pretty similar to one another on paper. Below we will simply highlight some of the strengths of our program.


Here at UBC we are pretty lucky. We have a wonderful program director who is dedicated to personalizing the program for each resident to maximize their experience and ensure it meets their needs. Most programs are similar in what rotations are required, but here at UBC it is really up to the resident to shape their years. Residents play an active role in deciding when/where they do their rotations. Quarterly meetings allow us to review the perceived value of rotations, and the rotations can vary depending on this. Below is a basic idea of what your years will look like divided into 4 week blocks. It is an example of what current residents have done year to year and will likely vary depending on your needs as a resident. We have around 10 months of elective time and flexibility to accommodate research interests.


Adult EM 3
Peds EM 1
Trauma Surgery 1
Internal Medicine 2
General Surgery 1
Obstetrics 1
Gynecology 1
Psych ER 1
Elective 1


Adult EM 5
Ortho 1
Plastics 1
Research (NERD) 1
Pre-Hospital/EMS 1
Peds EM 1
Anesthesia 1
Elective 1


Adult EM 6-7
Peds EM 1-2
Neuroscience 1
Elective/Research 2-3

PGY 4/5

Adult EM 12
Peds EM 2
Peds Anesthesia 1
Area of Interest 6
Elective/Research 4

Examples of elective blocks include EM in Whistler, CCU in Victoria, or a MERIT/medical education in 5th year. Our Neuroscience block can be Neurosurgery or Neurology. There are also many opportunities for international electives, with residents commonly doing Toxicology in New York City and Trauma in South Africa.

It is important to know that at UBC you will have the resources and curriculum to prepare you to ace your final exam. Residents write a newly developed nationally standardized practice exam in short answer form similar to the Royal College each year so that they can benchmark their progress. Residents also have the opportunity to write the American Board In-Training Evaluation exam ever year. Lastly, practice oral exams are given once or twice per year and of course senior residents receive more practice exams as they approach they end of their training for preparation of that small quiz at the end of residency.

Let’s be honest… this why we are all here. One of the great things about emergency medicine at UBC is that we get to do a lot of EM from day one. Going through first year entirely off service can be tough. Here at UBC, you get 4-5 months of EM in 1st year and 6-7 months in 2nd and 3rd year. This means that you don’t spend large amounts of time off-service without coming back to your home service to remember why you signed up for this gig. It’s a great way to go off-service, improve knowledge/skills in EM relevant specialties and bring it back home. We love it, and we know you will too. Another big perk about UBC is that there is only one learner per shift. This is definitely something you should consider about all programs. This means that it is just you and the staff working one on one. You will not only get a feel for department flow, but you’ll have an optimal teaching/learning environment. You won’t ever be waiting in line to review or worrying that another resident might override your chance to intubate or put in a central line. Yet the ER shifts are designed to be overlapping, which guarantees you'll always see smiling faces of your fellow residents around the department for added encouragement. You will never feel alone when you are on service!

With a full academic day, you will be getting the maximal learning experience. We have dedicated ECG, radiology, M&M, pharmacology and trauma rounds as well as our Tintinalli/Rosen’s sessions. Our first two years are based on Tintinalli and are attended with the CCFP-EM residents. The last three years are based on Rosen’s. These sessions are very interactive with residents being engaged during every session in a supportive, collegial environment. Each week we also have two residents and a staff present during academic rounds. What does a full academic day really mean? It means that every week you get to look forward to having an entire protected day off of to learn, drink Starbucks, eat sushi and spend time with what will soon become your family. Here’s a look at what a typical month looks like as a PGY 1 and 2:

Week 1

8-9 ECG Rounds
9-10 Grand Rounds
10-12 Academic Rounds
2-4 Tintinalli Session
4-5 Trauma Rounds

Week 2

7-9 Tintinalli Session
9-11 Grand Rounds
12-4 Sim/Can Meds
4-5 Trauma Rounds

Week 3

9-10 Radiology
10-11 M&M Rounds
11-1 Academic Rounds
2-4 Tintinalli Rounds
4-5 Trauma Rounds

Week 4

7-9 Tintinalli Session
9-11 M&M Rounds
1-4 Portfolio, Review or Sim Session
4-5 Trauma Rounds

Here at UBC we have a plethora of options for you to get involved with teaching. Each resident will have several opportunities to present over the year at journal club, grand rounds, academic rounds and M&M rounds, with senior residents also having the opportunity to teach a Tintinalli seminars to first and second years. At a junior resident level, you are spending quite a bit of time off service in first year, on rotations in which medical students will be directly under your supervision. Aside from these opportunities to teach as a junior, we have various opportunities to teach from running suturing sessions to mentoring to being involved with formal teaching sessions. Senior residents also have the opportunity to request shifts with junior learners so that they can begin managing department flow with teaching while they prepare for becoming a staff member. The teaching opportunities really are endless…you can be the guide!

UltrasoundUltrasound proficiency is rapidly becoming an essential skillset in emergency medicine. Recognizing this, the UBC EM program introduces ultrasound training within months of beginning residency. Our residents take the first Emergency Department Echosonography (EDE-1) course in their PGY-1 year. While “on-service” we have dedicated ultrasound shifts, which allow us to work towards our independent practitioner certification in emergency department ultrasound. Opportunities for more advanced ultrasound training are available in upper years – through further EDE courses or a formal ultrasound fellowship.

MentorshipYour senior residents have survived the trenches of off service rotations, lengthy cross-country moves, and found balance in their academic and extracurricular lives. Why not take advantage of their experiences and advice? Starting in 2014, the UBC EM program initiated a resident-led mentorship program. You will be paired with colleagues in upper years and have the opportunity to pick our brains on how to prepare for – and excel in! – all things residency related. Additionally, we have a well established staff/resident mentorship program. In second year (after you’ve gotten to know your emergency physicians) you are encouraged to select a staff mentor who will guide you through your training and help develop academic interests. You will find their advice to be invaluable (and they usually pick up the beverage tab!).

SimulationEach of our four sites has a dedicated simulation-training centre. All UBC EM residents will participate in formal high-fidelity SIM sessions at least four times per year. In addition, the senior residents run what is known throughout the program as “Ghetto SIM” for the junior residents. (These are essentially mock oral exam cases, in an extremely low stress/pressure environment!) The VGH Emergency Department hosts weekly interdisciplinary simulation codes in the ED Trauma Bay which residents will participate in during their EM blocks.

Residency is full of ups and downs (with many more ups than downs!) but it’s important to be a member of a group of residents who you know you can turn to, and who offer levity and cohesiveness to help you feel at home. It is also important to know you’ll have supportive staff and faculty. Here at UBC, we have a light-hearted group of staff and residents who also happen to have a lot of fun doing what we love. This is evident in the many incriminating photos from conferences, holiday videos, and even rounds. Such photo opportunities also occur at our many social events, post-academic day refreshments and conference-cations. In all seriousness, the staff at all four sites are incredibly invested in resident well-being and safety. Though difficult to describe in words, it’s worth experiencing. At the end of the day, there’s no shortage of support.