RVH has an innovative strategy to combat the severe shortage of family physicians in the region. In June 2009, RVH opened its Family Medicine Residency Program in affiliation with University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine. RVH is an official teaching site of the University of Toronto’s accredited program, which is the last stop for medical residents training to become family doctors. 

“This is the next logical step for RVH as we continue to develop unique ways to deliver exceptional health care to the people of this region,” said Janice Skot, RVH President and CEO. “This initiative is a milestone for health care innovation and community-based medical training and will position RVH as a centre of educational excellence. A dynamic medical staff, broad range of programs and state-of-the-art equipment all combine to create the perfect learning environment for doctors-in-training.”

Residents will receive traditional classroom training from physicians affiliated with the Barrie and Community Family Health Team. They’ll also receive practical experience, working alongside those family doctors in a new FMTU, where each student will manage a caseload of up to 300 patients. The medical residents will also do specialty rotations in the hospital in areas such as paediatrics, emergency medicine and surgery. The program has graduated 34 residents and has 18 family medicine PGY1 and PGY2 residents. 

“This partnership is beneficial on many levels. It’s a benefit for the family medicine residents to get their final training in a community-based hospital, a tremendous benefit for the many people in the region without access to a doctor, and also a benefit for the doctors teaching the residents as it offers an opportunity for growth and learning for them as well,” said Dr. Stuart Murdoch, a Barrie family physician and director of FMTU. “Statistics show that up to half of the residents stay in the communities they train in. That could make a huge impact on the doctor shortage we are experiencing.”

RVH was approved as a site for the residency program because of its full range of diagnostics, high tech equipment, medical expertise and interdisciplinary teams. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided $2.5 million in start-up funding for the project.

“Health care is ever-evolving, dynamic and demanding. Our students and trainees will graduate into a world where excellent health care must be available in all settings – rural, urban and suburban,” remarked Catharine Whiteside, Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Vice-Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions at the University of Toronto. “Here at the Royal Victoria, we know our students will be exposed to situations and scenarios that are unique to communities like Barrie. At the University of Toronto, we have outstanding health science professional programs because we have the good fortune to partner and work with the very best – and that is certainly true of the staff and leadership here at the RVH.”