Associate Physician Program at Island Health - Dr. Ben Williams


The following has been sent on behalf of Dr. Ben Williams, Vice President, Medicine, Quality and Chief Medical Officer

September 6, 2023

Dear colleagues,

As many of you are aware, we are preparing to welcome new members of the care team, Associate Physicians, to Island Health.

Associate Physicians are international medical graduates who are not eligible for licensure as independent medical practitioners who can work as part of the care team under the supervision of a fully licensed physician.

The development of Associate Physician programs at Island Health and throughout the province is a key component of British Columbia’s Health Human Resource strategy to tackle the heath care worker shortage, in part, by recognizing the credentials of international medical graduates (IMGs).

To deliver on this strategy, Island Health is working with the Ministry to help meet urgent and emergent patient care needs by facilitating the integration of Associate Physicians.

Associate Physicians will be Island Health employees and as such, hiring decisions will be made at a site level.

It is important to acknowledge that the Associate Physician program is in its infancy and there are logistics to work out before the program can scale and reach its full potential.

Associate Physician programs must be accredited by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. Clinical programs that provide team-based care will be eligible to apply for accreditation. More detail on how to apply for accreditation will be circulated in due course.

Progress to date:

Associate Physician deployment will be based on current and anticipated health human resource gaps, clinical team readiness and a thorough assessment of their potential impact on quality and safety of care.

  1. The program will be piloted across three teams prior to regional expansion. Preliminary deployment of Associate Physicians will focus on the following accredited programs:
  • Surgery—Victoria General Hospital (VGH), Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH)
  • Perinatal—VGH
  • Critical Care—VGH, RJH
  1. Accreditation has also been submitted to the College for the following programs:
  • Inpatient Care—Cowichan District Hospital, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Campbell River General Hospital, VGH, RJH
  1. Island-wide program development is currently in progress for Emergency Departments.

Please join me in welcoming these new team members when they come onboard. I am committed to keeping you informed and sharing information as the program evolves and is ready to expand to other sites.

Questions may be directed to


Dr. Ben Williams