Volunteer Patients

Medical students with preceptor and volunteer patientVolunteer Patients (commonly referred to as VPs) play an integral role in the delivery of medical education. The volunteer patient program provides an opportunity for people of all ages, genders, physical conditions, and backgrounds to participate in the education process of the medical students in the Northern Medical Program. Being a VP can be very rewarding and your participation is a vital component to the success of our students!

Who can be a VP and what can I expect?

Anyone can be a VP, but you do need to be comfortable with being a teaching model for non-invasive exams. You will also need to be comfortable with being asked questions about your health, family, and lifestyle history. The VP is there to allow the student to learn about a particular body system. Examples would be the heart and circulation, the shoulder, elbow, forearm, and the nervous system.

As a VP you may be asked to wear a hospital gown, but you won’t be asked to do anything painful or intrusive. You will be fully informed about what will happen in the teaching sessions and you will provide your informed consent prior to participating. All sessions are always run under the watchful eye of a physician tutor. 

Medical students with preceptor and volunteer patientWhat types of patients volunteer for the NMP?

There are two types of VPs, those who are “healthy” and have no obvious signs and symptoms of a medical condition (patient without findings), and those that do have a medical condition and have obvious signs and symptoms (patient with findings).

It is important to have both types of patients participating so that our medical students can learn baseline physical examination skills and then observe how a medical condition can present on the various body systems.

When and where do Volunteer Patient sessions take place?

The sessions that require volunteer patients, take place in the University Hospital of Northern BC weekday afternoons, Tuesday through Friday and VPs can spend anywhere from 1 to 3 hours with groups of 4 to 8 medical students.

If you or someone you know is interesting in volunteering, we would like to hear from you.

Katherine Dewijn
Patient Program Supervisor