Extending psychiatric care — and training — to Fraser Health

L-R: Psychiatry resident Charlena Chan discusses patients with Clinical Assistant Professor Anson Koo

Five years ago, Fraser Health’s psychiatrists were stretched to the limit. “We were undergoing a demographic explosion, and had the second-lowest psychiatrist-to-population ratio in the province,” says Anson Koo, a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Division Leader of Fraser Health’s Adult Mental Health Programs. If nothing changed, the situation was likely to worsen, thanks to the impending retirement of a large cohort of psychiatrists. So Dr. Koo and his colleagues convinced the Faculty of Medicine and the Ministry of Health to create a full, five-year psychiatric residency program based in Fraser Health. Now entering its third year, the program brings in six new psychiatric residents a year, who complete their training — and care for patients — in the health authority’s wide array of hospitals, residential mental health facilities and outpatient clinics. In the most recent CaRMS residency match, all six positions were filled in the first round. And the presence of aspiring psychiatrists in Fraser Health has also attracted more experienced ones, drawn by the growing academic culture, with its promise of more frequent contact with students and residents and greater opportunities for research. As a result, the months-long waits for outpatient mental health services are becoming increasingly rare, and more specialized services are more available. It’s a great example of UBC’s educational needs dovetailing with the public’s health care needs. Read more about it in the spring issue of UBC Medicine magazine.

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