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Celebrating BC's Resident Physicians

PAR BC

By PAR BC

On February 18, 2014, the Professional Association of Residents of British Columbia (PAR-BC) celebrated the 13th annual National Resident Awareness Day. This national event aims to bring awareness to the public about the importance of medical residents in the national healthcare system. PAR-BC hosted awareness booths at Royal Columbian Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and Centennial Community Centre to share information and answer questions about residents and residency.

A Resident Physician is a new doctor who is training to specialize in a particular branch of medicine prior to independent practice. Residency is a required part of a doctor’s training, and takes two to seven years to complete depending on the specialty. They are frontline healthcare workers who are often the first point of contact for patients, and provide around-the-clock care in clinics and hospitals. In addition to their full time physician duties, they also teach medical students, conduct medical research and write exams. The term “resident” is used because in the past Resident Physicians lived in the hospitals. Today, while they don’t actually live there, they do spend the majority of their day in the hospital, and often stay overnight, snatching a few hours of sleep between patients.

There are over 1200 Resident Physicians in BC alone. While they are an integral part of the healthcare system, and the physicians of the future, the word “resident” is generally unfamiliar to the non-medical populace. To further our engagement with the public and improve understanding of residency, awareness advertisements will be displayed on transit throughout Greater Vancouver for the next few weeks.

This past weekend, on February 15th, Residents connected with the community by volunteering their time at the Dugout drop-in centre in Vancouver, serving breakfast and interacting with the public in a non-medical setting.
“We work with [the downtown east side] population in hospitals and clinics all the time, but often miss out on some of the daily activities that many of these individuals need to do to survive,” says Dr. Daniel Heffner, one of the Resident volunteers at the Dugout. “As a Public Health Resident it reinforced the importance of food security among marginalized populations.”

PAR-BC President, Dr. Arun Jagdeo, was also in attendance and found the experience to be a poignant one. “I worked alongside Dave, one of the staff at the Dugout, as he expertly went about his business of sorting and organizing food boxes and handing out food to the long line of waiting people. And, alongside him, I also felt the pang of sadness as the morning went on, we ran out of food, and had to turn away hungry people… Experiences like ours this morning teach each and every volunteer to appreciate the deep connection all humans have with one another.”

Resident Awareness Day is an annual event honored by PAR-BC in conjunction with the Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR), and other provincial housestaff organizations across Canada.

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