August 1, 2003 For Immediate Release
Just a few weeks after arriving in Prince George to lead the development of the new Northern Medical Program, David Snadden is embarking on a 400km bike ride to thank the community of Tumbler Ridge for their investment in future medical students. He is planning to leave Prince George on Monday, August 4, at 9am.
The Northern Medical Program is part of the expansion of medical education in BC and is the result of a partnership between UNBC and UBC to train doctors for rural practice. The program has received much support from northern communities: to date, 20 communities have pledged to raise money to support future medical students in the North. Tumbler Ridge has been the first - and so far, only - community to realize its full pledge amount, contributing $65,000 to the Northern Medical Programs Trust (NMPT). The goal of the NMPT is to establish a $6 million endowment to ensure northern students are not financially disadvantaged from pursuing medical education.
Located in northeastern BC, Tumbler Ridge shares much in common with other northern communities: it is resource-dependent and has challenges attracting and keeping health professionals. Even though coal mining has been the staple of the local economy, both local mines have shut down and Tumbler Ridge has been re-inventing itself with a new focus on tourism.
"I think it's outstanding that communities are willing to invest in something like the Northern Medical Program and understand its potential for preparing physicians for rural practice," says Dr Snadden, who has come to UNBC from Scotland, where he had experience both as a medical educator and rural physician. "I want to do something meaningful to thank Tumbler Ridge, and at the same time, get a real, first-hand knowledge of the size and beauty of this region."
Dr Snadden is an avid outdoorsman, having climbed and cycled throughout Europe. He will cycle to Tumbler Ridge on a tandem bike with his wife, Moira, and camp at various locations along the way. He estimates the 400km ride from Prince George to Tumbler Ridge will take four or five days. The community is planning a welcoming dinner on Friday evening at the local Rec Centre.
Unique in Canada, the Northern Medical Program will accept its first 24 students in 2004. Students will take their initial semester at UBC, before having the opportunity to complete their coursework at UNBC and participate in clinical placements throughout the North. The $12 million building that will house the NMP at UNBC is currently under construction and is slated for completion next year.
Photos and video footage will be available. Contact below to arrange an interview with Dr Snadden.