The Island Medical Program is looking for female practitioners who are comfortable with their bodies to teach students at University of Victoria how to medically examine female patients. (Photo courtesy of Island Health)

The Island Medical Program is looking for female practitioners who are comfortable with their bodies to teach students at University of Victoria how to medically examine female patients. (Photo courtesy of Island Health)

Female practitioners sought to teach physical exams to Greater Victoria med students

Training involves acting as both instructor and patient for sensitive female examinations

The Island Medical Program is looking for female health educators who are comfortable with their bodies to join their Female Clinical Teaching Associates.

The program teaches second-year students how to perform gynecological and chest exams and is delivered by the University of British Columbia’s MD undergraduate program in collaboration with the University of Victoria and Island Health.

Training involves acting as the instructor and the patient for physical exams, all while teaching techniques required to conduct an effective and comfortable examination.

“Having a sensitive examination can often provoke stress, anxiety or discomfort among female patients,” said Alison Walzak, clinical skills site director.

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The program helps students learn how to establish trusting relationships with female patients by emphasizing the importance of using sensitive language and a communication style that garners respect, understanding and a sense of comfort.

“Some of the information they learn in textbooks is very matter-of-fact and they don’t get a chance otherwise to translate that into language that patients can understand and be comforted by.”

Caelen Bright, onsite coordinator for the nurse practitioner masters program at the University of Victoria, said a large part of their teaching is ensuring students convey to patients that their bodies are normal.

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“Patients are exposed to our larger culture which has all kinds of messages about anatomy, size, hair patterns,” she said, encouraging students to use terms that are neutral and inclusive. “You never know if a patient has thought to themselves that something is weird or not normal of theirs when really, most of us don’t look like the textbooks.”

Two or three exams are conducted per session, with three students and a supervising medical doctor attending. Students are held to the same criteria as medical professionals and are expected to follow confidentiality standards in place.

For more information, contact Karen Basi at karenpri@uvic.ca.


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BC HealthIsland HealthPost-secondary Education