Northern and Rural Pathway

The need for doctors in rural and remote communities has never been more urgent. One of our goals at the Faculty of Medicine is to help meet that need and serve underrepresented communities in rural, remote, and northern regions across British Columbia. If you are living in a rural region of BC, or interested in serving in these smaller communities and want to pursue a career in healthcare, we will support you every step of the way on your path to becoming a doctor.

The UBC MD Undergraduate program includes three sites that provide opportunities to complete undergraduate medical training in regional centres that serve rural, remote, and northern communities. Each site includes seats specifically designated for students who are interested in pursuing this path and practicing medicine in areas outside of metropolitan centres:

  • the Northern Medical Program (40 seats),
  • the Southern Medical Program (up to 14 seats), 
  • the Island Medical Program (up to 4 seats),
  • the Vancouver Fraser Medical Cohort 3rd Year Clerkship (4 seats).

Believe it or not, you are already on your way

Your time in a rural or northern community, and/or your experiences with and connections to rural living, has already helped prepare you to become a student in UBC’s MD Undergraduate program. Your unique life experiences, close-knit connections to your community, and caring perspectives from your time living or working in a remote, rural or Indigenous setting are qualities we’re looking for in our future medical doctors. Be assured that your time living in a non-urban area has given you tools and skills that will help equip you to deliver exceptional healthcare to small and remote communities which have little or no access to specialized services.

Just as there are diverse fields of medicine, we seek diverse applicants who, because of their individual skills and experiences, can bring a level of empathy and understanding to serving in rural, northern and island areas of our province.

Your Community In Health

How you’ve demonstrated care in your community tells us how you might care for others in the future. We are looking for your unique experiences and stories of compassion, whether they happened on a family farm while caring for a relative, or while traveling, or volunteering for a cause you believe in. Your distinctive strengths and skills contribute to and play a crucial part in our assessment and admissions process.

Rural and Remote Suitability Score (RRSS)

The RRSS helps us in the selection of appropriate students for Northern and Rural Pathway seats.

Your experiences in rural, remote, northern or Indigenous settings, along with community ties and diverse activities will all be included into this assessment.

Applicants who fill out the Northern and Rural Training Section of the application and who successfully qualify for an MMI interview may be invited to participate in a virtual Northern and Rural panel interview.

Meet Our Students

Lauren Eggenberger

Ever since I was young I have loved my science classes and learning about the human body. I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me help others and ideally return to the north to work and give back to the community that I was raised in. Medicine seemed like the perfect career to allow me to explore all three of these passions. Every day I’m reminded of why I made this choice and why this was the right choice for me.

Lauren Eggenberger from Yellowknife, NT started the MD Program in 2020

Meet our students

NMP Class of 2022 visiting St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof, B.C.

NMP Class of 2022 visiting St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof, B.C.

Taking The Next Step

The benefit of this distributed model is that it offers smaller class sizes, opportunities to have experiential learning activities in rural and Indigenous communities earlier in their degree, quality time with teachers and a very varied range of clinical learning experiences all while being supported by a close-knit medical education community throughout the duration of the degree.

If you think becoming a doctor is the path for you, our admissions team is here to help. We encourage you to join the rural pathway and pursue your dream of becoming a healthcare professional. Our greatest hope is that you will go on to have a gratifying medical practice in a connected community in the province of British Columbia.

If you have concerns about financing your medical education, we encourage you to explore the specific supports available to students from rural and/or remote communities. The BC government offers a number of financial incentives for the recruitment and retention of physicians in rural BC communities, including the student loan forgiveness program, designed to mitigate the costs of a medical education for students willing to locate in rural, remote, or northern communities after the completion of their training.