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General Practitioner in Oncology Education Program

An eight-week learning opportunity for family physicians, particularly those from outside urban centres, who are keen to strengthen their oncology skills and enhance cancer care in their communities.

Our aim is to have at least one (preferably two) family physician in every BC community with 15,000 people who has completed this program and can support all aspects of cancer care for local patients and their families.

If you are interested in enhancing your oncology knowledge and skills, are willing to take on these responsibilities in your community, and have the support of your colleagues and other local health care providers, then please consider our program. Learning Outcomes.

The program is offered in a flexible format that can be taken over six months. The full-time, two-week Introductory Module is offered every February and September at the BC Cancer Vancouver Centre focusing on medical, radiation, and pediatric oncology protocols and supportive care requirements necessary to provide enhance care for cancer patients.   

Thirty days of clinical rotation are then completed at the BC Cancer Centre where participants' patients are referred and participants are encouraged to tailor their learning specific to their community’s needs. 


BC Cancer developed the GPO Education Program in 2004, with the support of the UBC's Department of Family Practice Enhanced Skills Program, and with input from many family physicians. Special thanks are also extended to BC Cancer physicians and members of the GPO Education Program Working Group who deliver the training and prepare the curriculum respectively.

Eighty-six family physicians from 33 different communities have completed the program to date and are actively practising as General Practitioners in Oncology. (See GPO Map.) BC Cancer also trains GPOs and Nurse Practitioners for its various sites through this program.  


The Introductory Module is accredited as below. 

The University of British Columbia Division of Continuing Professional Development (UBC CPD) is fully accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education (CACME) to provide study credits for continuing medical education for physicians. This Introductory Module of this course has been reviewed and approved by the UBC CPD. This Group Learning course meets the certification criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and has been certified by UBC CPD for up to 61.5 Mainpro+ credits. Each physician should claim only those credits he/she actually spent in the activity.

Those who complete the 30 days of Clinical Rotation can claim 50 Self-Learning, Mainpro+ credits under the College of Family Physicians of Canada's Clinical Traineeship/Preceptorship category. Additional credits can be claimed under the Other Non-certified Learning Activities category.


Those who are from RSA (Rural Subsidiary Agreement communities) can apply through the Rural Education Action Plan's (REAP) Advance Skills and Training Program to receive a stipend and to have their travel and accommodation expenses covered. 


Hillary Kovach, UBC Department of Family Medicine, Tel 604.827.1504

REAP Application

REAP Details 

Physicians from other communities can apply to UBC’s Department of Family Practice Enhanced Skills Program  to receive remuneration at a third year residency level while they are in the program. 


Lindsay Gowland, Program Coordinator, Enhanced Skills Program

Tel. 604.822.0869

Enhanced Skills Program Application 

There is also a scholarship opportunity available from the Canadian Association of General Practitioners in Oncology. Full scholarship details.


Applications are always being accepted for the GPO Education Program. The two-week Introductory Module is offered at BC Cancer's Vancouver Centre every February and September. The following 30 days of Clinical Rotation - a required part of the full program for GPOs - are organized individually to meet participants' schedules.

Next sessions: September 9-20 and February 3-14, 2020

To apply please complete and submit the application form according to your program plans:

Please submit your form with all required documents as one pdf file by email to Jennifer Wolfe. Kindly submit your application at your earliest convenience.


Graduates of the program find the GPO Education Program enhances the quality of care they provide in their communities:

Dr. Gordon Hutchinson completed the program in 2006 and has taken over administering chemotherapy and symptom management in Williams Lake and 100 Mile House as well as continuing with his emergency practice. 

"Our patient load tripled to 579 visits in 2007 with a great repatriation of patients who otherwise would have had to travel long distances for their treatments.” Due to the increased patient workload, two more physicians are taking the training to help with the increasing volumes.

Dr. Linda Wilson completed the program in 2006. She is one of five General Practitioners in Oncology at the Prince George Regional Hospital’s Cancer Clinic, and, she also maintains a regular family and busy obstetrical practice:

“One of the most useful aspects of the program is developing a context for how BC Cancer works in Vancouver and gaining a network of people to consult with, particularly regarding complications from chemotherapy which always seem to arise when our regional oncologist is away! I also provide advice to GPs in surrounding areas regarding side-effects from chemotherapy and offer assistance when the regional oncologist is away.”


Dr. Michael McGuire completed the program in 2006. He is a General Practitioner in Oncology in Victoria and a cancer survivor now in remission from multiple myeloma:

"The GPO Education Program provides a clearer understanding of oncology which we often do not have the chance to establish as busy general practitioners. In fact, we tend to lack confidence in treating cancer patients and hand them off quickly to the oncologists when we run into problems. This is not always necessary for many of the more minor problems encountered by cancer patients. The program offers a highly relevant body of knowledge that can be absorbed quickly and flexibly by general practitioners.”

Dr. Elizabeth Bastian completed the program in 2004. 

“Oncology is an interest I’ve had for a long time and the GPO Education Program provided an opportunity for me to pursue this and, at the same time, provide a more complete service to the community. The program gave me more of a well-rounded understanding of oncology including valuable insight into the services of BC Cancer. The week I spent learning about palliative care was also extremely useful to give me a perspective on homecare nursing.”



Contact us

If you have any questions about the GPO Education Program or would like more information, please e-mail Jennifer Wolfe or call directly at 604.219.9579.


GPO/Nurse Practitioner Listing by Community (includes graduates of the Network’s GPO Education Program, BC Cancer GPOs and Nurse Practitioners). To get in touch with any of the individuals listed please contact Jennifer Wolfe at the Network. 

GPO Map of BC

At present, 86 GPOs from 33 different communities have completed the GPO Training Program and are actively practising in BC and the Yukon. Six are in the process of completing the program and 8 have been practising since before the program began in 2004 or come to the role with equivalent experience. In total, there are 94 GPOs practising in BC and the Yukon. 


Required Preparatory Learning for GPO Education

Useful References

Hallmarks of Cancer: the Next Generation, Douglas Hanahan and Robert A. Weinberg, (2011)

E-book for physicians only: The M.D. Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology available through the Library at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.


Information Skills and Library Services
The resources of the BC Cancer Library are also extended to trainees including access to e-journals, databases, document delivery and literature search services.

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