After practising family medicine for more than 20 years, Dr Megan O’Keefe chose to expand the scope of her services to include primary maternity care. She enrolled in the R3 Enhanced skills program, an obstetrics residency offered through the UBC Department of Family Medicine.

It was during the R3 program Dr O’Keefe learned about the GPSC’s self-directed Maternity Care for BC (MC4BC) program. MC4BC promotes, supports, and trains BC family physicians to reconnect with low-risk maternity services.

“I was attracted to the MC4BC program because it was more experience,” says Dr O’Keefe. “I felt like I wasn’t quite ready, so it was really great to have [the MC4BC program]. It was wonderful.”

MC4BC is designed for family physicians to begin, maintain, or reintroduce obstetrical care in their practices, and offers mentorship, hands-on experience, and financial support. The program is funded through the GPSC partners, the Doctors of BC and the BC Ministry of Health.

The program creates practical and learning experiences for doctors. With the support of preceptors, program participants gain confidence and develop skills in hospitals and health care settings across BC.

Dr O’Keefe trained at Surrey Memorial Hospital, which hosted the largest share of MC4BC participants and number of deliveries in the program’s first five years. Surrey Memorial Hospital contributed to 47% of graduate deliveries and 89% of graduates achieving the program’s intended delivery volume.

“That’s what I was looking for. I wanted the volume and experience,” says Dr O’Keefe, who has been practising at Lions Gate Maternity Clinic since January 2013.

In one 24-hour MC4BC training shift at the hospital, Dr O’Keefe did 10 deliveries. In addition to labour and delivery, her training included conducting assessments and inductions as well as addressing pregnancy complications.

Of the program participants so far, nearly 100% of those polled agreed that MC4BCC is an important support to family physicians by enhancing the care they provide to patients, and that MC4BC increased their confidence to perform obstetrical deliveries.

With a minority of family physicians in BC offering maternity care, the GPSC is committed to increasing the number of family physicians who practice general obstetrics. MC4BC aims to help stem the tide of family physicians renouncing their obstetrical privileges or choosing to not incorporate obstetrics into their practices.

Maintaining hospital privileges for the purpose of practising obstetrics empowers physicians to be primary care providers who offer comprehensive care to their patients. This continuum of care fosters attachment and nurtures longitudinal relationships.

“I feel much more experienced and confident than would have without the MC4BC program."