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FLEX Medical & Students Practicum

Medical students at the University of British Columbia can opt for a projects and electives with the RBS through the FLEX program (formerly the Self-Directed Practicum Option course) where students are given time to pursue projects within the community or in research. Students are supported by the guidance of the RB FLEX committee.

To date the participating FLEX students have assisted in the development of the RBS manual and curriculum, editing and revising the activity book (My Bear Book) that the Kindergarten children use throughout the year, and developing the reflective writing component for the adolescents.

If you’d like more information on the FLEX, program, please contact us. If you’re ready to participate, you can register here.

FLEX Students

Awards and Distinctions

Christine Wang, Kay Fung, April Lu (2013-2014)
Canadian Federation of Medical Students Student Initiative Grant
UBC Social Accountability and Community Engagement (SACE) Fund

Dr. Kay Fung
College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) Medical Student Scholarship 2015
Larry A. Green Visiting Scholars Program  2017

Isabel Chen
YWCA,The Young Woman Distinction Award 2014
Crofton House School Alumnae Achievement Award 2018
American Academy of Family Physicians Award for Excellence in Graduate
Medical Education 2017

Cristian Vadeanu
DASH Inquiry grant 2015

Victoria Baronas
Vanier Canadian Graduate Scholarship 2016


FLEX Self-Directed Practicum Option

2013 – 2014 : Kay Fung, April Lu, Christine Wang

2014 – 2015 : Rachel Liu, Cristian Vadeanu, John Peel, Julia Zazoulina, Andrew Purssell, James Dueckman

2016 – Ongoing : Cheryl Gascoyne and Paul Abraham

2016-2017 : Carolyn Norton

2017-Ongoing : Amy Plessis (Kelowna)

Spring 2017 – Jennifer Wildi

Spring-Summer 2017 : Ceilidh Matthews, Mary Zheng

Fall 2017 – Ongoing: Thomas McFarland (Kelowna)

Winter 2018 –  Valerie Ward (Prince George)


FLEX Committee

Dr. Isabel Chen, MPH, MD (‘UBC 2015), Chair FLEX committee, Co-Founder & Vice-President RBS

Isabel Chen brings a strong passion for health equity and human rights to the program. While completing her BA and MPH degrees from Yale, she focused on the social determinants of health among underserved populations. She has spent years studying the systemic barriers to thriving communities and organizing social advocacy programs for health care access. Isabel is a licensed physician, completing her Family Medicine residency at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. There, she is focusing on tackling food insecurity among patients and is active in researching burnout among medical trainees. She has served on numerous leadership boards for the Canadian Commission of UNESCO, the American Public Health Association & the Federation of Medical Women of Canada.

Dr. Andrew Deonarine, BSc(Hons), MSc, MD, MHSc (UBC), PhD(Cantab), Friedman Scholar (Patel Group), Harvard Medical School, Chair FLEX research, RBS Advisory Board

Andrew joined the RBS advisory board committee in 2013 and has been advising SDPO and FLEX medical students in the development of the analysis platform for the adolescent reflective writing component of the Reading Bear program. He will be completing his residency in clinical informatics at Harvard University with the funding from Friedman Award for Scholars in Health. Clinical informatics involves physicians developing software systems such as electronic medical records, databases, artificial intelligence, and decision support systems to help improve the practice of medicine. Andrew hopes to gain experience in this new subspecialty and bring that experience back to Canada to improve health care on a national level, and meet the health challenges of the futures.

Dr. Janet Greenman, MD, FRCPC, FAAP, Content Expert

Dr. Janet Greenman is a general pediatrician. She completed medical school at the University of Calgary and a pediatric residency at UBC. She has had a variety of practice experiences, including the University of Virginia’s general pediatric clinics and a private pediatric consulting practice in the suburbs of Toronto. Before moving back to Vancouver, she worked in Illinois in a community clinic for medically underserved patients. During that time the pediatricians started the Reach Out and Read program at the clinic. She is currently the associate director of the UBC pediatric residency program, and practices in the Pediatric Residents’ Continuity Clinic, the RICHER pediatric program in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside and in a private practice. Early childhood development and health, and the impact of social determinants, including literacy, on health are among her areas of interest.

Dr. Trevor Newton, MD (‘UBC 1987), CCFM, EM, Treasurer and Secretary, FLEX Mentor

Dr. Trevor Newton is an emergency room physician and past director for ten years of the emergency department at Langley Memorial Hospital and currently works at UBC Urgent Care Centre. He is a graduate from the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine (1987) and CCFP (EM) certified. On a daily basis in the emergency room, Trevor witnesses the detrimental impact of poverty and low literacy on child and family health. He is a strong supporter of medical student education via ongoing ER and RB mentorship.

Dr. Joanne Roussy, RN, PhD (‘UBC 1999), Co-founder and President, FLEX Activity Supervisor

Dr. Joanne Roussy is the Founder and President of The Reading Bear Society. She holds a PhD in Nursing from The University of British Columbia (1999), as well as an MSc and BSc from l’Université de Montréal. She is a lecturer at UBC Medical School, a family volunteer at Canuck Place, a mentor and co-founder of Mom2Mom. For the past 31 years, she has worked in the field of women’s and children’s health in clinical, academic, and public health settings with a focus on social justice and equity.

Victoria Baronas, BSc (Hons), MD/PhD Candidate (2020), FLEX student representative

Victoria graduated from UBC in 2013 with a BSc (Honours) in Pharmacology, and soon after began the MD/PhD program at UBC. Throughout her years as an undergrad, Victoria has worked with marginalized youth as a volunteer at the BC Children’s Hospital, as well as having spent a summer in Uganda volunteering at an HIV/AIDS organization. In addition, her belief in the importance of education has driven her to teach science experiments to elementary students and pharmacology classes to university exchange students. These experiences drew Victoria to work with the Reading Bear, which seamlessly weaves the power of education with social empowerment of underprivileged kindergarten students in Vancouver. She is excited to continue to grow her role in this organization as the Director of Students and Board Member.

Cristian Vadeanu, B.Sc. Physiology and Psychology, MD (UBC ‘2017), FLEX mentor and funding liaison

Cristian Vadeanu is a graduate of medicine of the University of British Columbia. Cristian first joined the RB as a SDPO student in 2014 and as a Chair of Fundraising. Cristian is an emergency resident in Edmonton. His involvement with the Reading Bear Society and as a self-directed project and as a student representative and mentor allows the integration of his many interests through mentorship in team-oriented settings- passions that are clearly evident and highly infectious.

Dr. Kay Fung, RN, MD (‘UBC 2016), FLEX Mentor

Having grown up in the Greater Vancouver region, Kay graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing before moving to Alberta to work as a registered nurse. She returned home for medical school and graduated with her MD degree in May 2016. She is currently a family practice resident at UBC with an interest with working with marginalized and underserved populations. Being a passionate advocate for children’s health (and being a big kid at heart herself), Kay become involved in the Reading Bear as part of a self-directed project alongside two other second year medical school students and is now excited to continue her role with the Reading Bear Society as the Newsletter Co-Editor.

Paul Abraham, Student Representative

Growing with the Reading Bear Society has been one of the highlights of Paul’s medical school experience. He has always had a passion for education and feels fortunate to be able to share in this experience with the organization. As a first and second year FLEX student, Paul worked on a number of projects aimed at quality improvement and curriculum development. In addition, he has recently taken on duties as the Chair of Students who oversees the various volunteer groups within the organization. It gives him great pride to impact this segment of society as it has provided him a glimpse into its inner workings. Paul looks forward to continuing his above roles and providing additional insight experience as a member of the FLEX committee.