Adolescent Health and Medicine

Dr. Dzung Vo, Division Head

The mission of the Division of Adolescent Health and Medicine is to improve the health of adolescents in British Columbia and beyond, through clinical services, education and training, advocacy, health promotion and research. The Division seeks to develop and advocate for best practices for youth, educate and train health professionals in these best practices, facilitate youth involvement in program planning and evaluation, identify and address adolescent health issues, and develop partnerships for clinical services, training and research.

The division committed to excellence in clinical care and professional education, improving access to care for vulnerable youth and families, promotion of prevention, early intervention, and harm reduction.  Core values of the Division include fostering positive youth development and resiliency in the face of adversity, and promote health equity. The work of each team member is driven by personal values and commitment to enhancing the health and wellbeing of adolescents.

The Division supports several clinical programs at BC’s Children’s Hospital, including the Adolescent Health Clinic, the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program, an inpatient adolescent medicine consultation service, and the Social Pediatrics (RICHER) Program. The Division is a key partner of the BC Children’s Hospital Centre for Mindfulness, which serves as a hub to connect, support, and grow mindfulness activities for children, youth, families and caregivers, and health professionals. Within the broader community, the Division ensures that BC Children’s Hospital plays a strong provincial role in developing partnerships to address health issues for B.C.’s adolescent population.

UPDATED June 30 2020

Over the past several years, members of the Division have lead and/or participated in research in adolescent health, often in collaboration with partners at BC Children’s Hospital and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, UBC School of Social Work, UBC School of Nursing, and the McCreary Centre Society. Some examples of current research projects include:

  • Collaboration with BC Centre for Substance Use on ethnographic study of adolescents admitted to the hospital with severe substance use and/or concurrent disorders.
  • Pilot study of Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescent (MARS-A), mindfulness based intervention for adolescents with psychological distress, with or without co-occurring chronic pain and/or chronic illness.
  • Research into the ways that adolescents’ with disabilities navigate major transitions (high school, adulthood).
  • Investigations of foster co-parenting that enhances youths’ cultural engagement, integration into the family, and well-being.
  • Case series of adolescents admitted to the hospital with severe substance use and/or concurrent disorders.

The Division of Adolescent Health and Medicine is responsible for providing academic leadership in UBC educational activities related to adolescent health. The Division educates medical students, pediatric residents, adolescent medicine subspecialty residents and clinical fellows, and residents and other trainees from multiple disciplines in medical and biopsychosocial issues related to adolescent health through didactic learning and elective/rotation opportunities. The Division offers an Adolescent Medicine Subspecialty Residency (fellowship) program for future adolescent medicine specialists, which is one of only four programs accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The Division also offers weekly Adolescent Medicine Academic Half Days, including lectures and interactive workshops from the Division faculty and invited guests on topics related to adolescent health. The Division values and promotes lifelong health professional wellness through workshops on resilience and mindfulness for trainees and staff alike.

Medical Student Education

Adolescent Medicine faculty direct the Adolescent Health and Development week for the Foundations of Medical Practice course in the UBC Faculty of Medicine second-year medical student curriculum. Adolescent Medicine faculty also lead and participate in the Adolescent Clinical Skills course for second-year medical students, training students in strength-based interviewing techniques with adolescents. The Division also has limited capacity to offer Adolescent Medicine electives for fourth year medical students interested in adolescent health, and mentorship for individual medical student research and FLEX (Flexible Enhanced Learning) projects.

Resident Education

The Division delivers a four-week rotation for all general pediatric residents at the University of British Columbia, as well as elective rotations for visiting residents. During this rotation, residents receive inpatient and outpatient experiences in the care of adolescents with eating disorders, somatic symptom disorders, chronic illness, complex pain, substance use and concurrent disorders, gender diverse health needs, and sexual health. The Division also provides a rotating three year curriculum in the General Pediatrics Residency Training Program Academic Half Days, covering specialized areas of adolescent health including eating disorders, adolescent growth and development, substance use and concurrent disorders, sexual health, risk and resiliency, strength-based clinical interviewing techniques, transition to adult care, chronic illness management, and mindfulness for health professionals.

Sub-specialty Education & Fellowship

The Adolescent Medicine Subspecialty Residency and Fellowship Program at BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver provides advance training in adolescent pediatrics for Royal College certified or eligible residents as well as international fellows who have completed pediatric training.  The program has been accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada since 2010, and is the only accredited Adolescent Medicine training program in Western Canada. BC Children’s Hospital provides a rich training environment as the only pediatric hospital in British Columbia and the referral center for medically complex pediatric and adolescent patients for the entire province. Clinical training is conducted through outpatient consultations at the Adolescent Medicine Clinic, inpatient consultations at BC Children’s Hospital, the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorder Program, and a network of community settings in Vancouver. In addition, the Division of Adolescent Medicine participates in a developing Social Pediatrics Program in the lowest income area of Vancouver through which the resident will work clinically, and contribute to program development, to address social determinants of health of marginalized youth.

Subspecialty residents participate in a formal weekly participatory and didactic Academic Half Day curriculum covering critical topics of adolescent health including interviewing, assessment and counseling skills, evaluation and management of specific medical and mental health conditions, adolescent development, risk and resiliency, mindfulness-based interventions, and public health. In addition, residents take graduate-level classes at the University of British Columbia on population based research methodology, multidisciplinary perspectives on adolescence and biostatistics.

Residents will pursue a research project. The Division of Adolescent Medicine works closely with UBC researchers to facilitate research training in adolescent health as well as with the McCreary Centre Society, a unique resource that conducts a periodic Adolescent Health Survey and related research on the physical and emotional health of youth in British Columbia, the largest survey of its kind in Canada. The program is individualized to match the career goals and strengths of individual trainees, and ongoing feedback and mentorship is provided by Division faculty. Our program emphasizes models and principles of resilience and positive youth development. We aim to prepare graduates of this program for successful careers in Adolescent Medicine as leading clinicians, scholars, and educators in Canada and internationally.

Now is a very exciting time to get involved in Adolescent Medicine in Canada, and British Columbia in particular. The field is now entering a growth phase, with opportunities for leadership. There is tremendous interest, energy, and potential to do new and creative work, and make a real difference in the lives of youth. Vancouver and British Columbia also offers a high quality of life, with a beautiful natural setting, a mild climate, a diverse population, and a wealth of cultural and athletic opportunities.

Please see the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons website for more general information on the subspecialty of Adolescent Medicine, including national requirements for applicants and for training programs.

We are currently recruiting Canadian applicants for subspecialty residency through the CaRMS Pediatric Subspecialty Match. We have limited capacity to train international clinical fellows in adolescent medicine as well.

Please view our Program Description for further details. Please contact Eva Moore, MD, Program Director of the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program, to learn more about the subspecialty residency and clinical fellowship program.

Download the BCCH Adolescent Medicine Subspecialty Residency Description_2020

Patient Care

The goals of the Division's clinical programs are to: (1) develop and maintain best practices for youth health; and (2) provide training opportunities for medical students and residents.

Outpatient Services

The BC Children’s Hospital Adolescent Health Clinic, established in November 1999, is a specialized pediatric clinic that serves adolescents with complex health issues within the context of major medical, psychological, and social events during the transition to adulthood. The clinic is staffed by adolescent medicine subspecialist physicians, an adolescent health nurse clinician, a clinic secretary, and medical trainees (as a teaching site of the University of British Columbia.) The Adolescent Health Clinic, in collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, developed and offers the Mindful Awareness and Resilience Skills for Adolescents (MARS-A) 8-week outpatient mindfulness based intervention for adolescents with psychological distress, with or without co-occurring chronic illness and/or chronic pain.

The Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program at BC Children’s Hospital is a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, specialized program to assess and treat children and adolescents with eating disorders. The program emphasizes the involvement of parents / caregivers in the delivery of care.

The Youth Health Program Transition Model (On-TRAC) was introduced to the ambulatory clinics at Children's Hospital two years ago. This model aims to provide uninterrupted, developmentally appropriate care for young people prior to and throughout their transfer into the adult health care system. Division members provide education, workshops and liaison with specialty programs and inpatient units to provide implementation support.

The Division of Adolescent Health and Medicine is a core component of the Social Pediatrics / RICHER (Responsive Intersectoral Children's Health, Education, and Research) Program. The first program of its kind in BC, the RICHER Initiative seeks to address health equity disparities and particularly disparities in health care access that many marginalized and vulnerable children and families experience. The model recognizes the importance of trusted relationships and seeks to increase capacity and resilience for the families served.

Inpatient Services

The Eating Disorders Intensive Treatment Service inpatient unit provides a continuum of comprehensive services for patients requiring intensive treatment for children and adolescents with severe eating disorders. Services include ongoing medical and dietary assessment and management of patients, as well as individual and family psychotherapy, and nursing support and education.

The Division operates a 24/7 inpatient service for adolescents who are medically unstable due to complications of eating disorders in the BC Children’s Hospital Teck Acute Care Centre. The Division also performs inpatient consultations for adolescents throughout BC Children’s Hospital with complex medical and biopsychosocial issues such as complex pain and somatization. The Division is currently developing stabilization care for adolescents hospitalized for life-threatening illicit substance use overdoses and severe substance use and concurrent disorders, in the context of the opioid crisis which was declared as a public health emergency in British Columbia in 2016.

Youth Involvement

The Division of Adolescent Health and Medicine enhances the capacity of BC Children's Hospital to facilitate meaningful youth involvement in program planning and implementation. The Division leads the BC Children’s Hospital Youth Advisory Committee. The BC Children’s Hospital Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) is a group of diverse, energetic youth aged 12-23 who meet monthly to work on projects to support youth-friendly, patient-centred care. The YAC creates opportunities for youth leadership at BC Children’s as members build awareness of the needs of young people among faculty and staff, and strengthen connections between youth and their care providers. The YAC has been actively involved in research at BC Children’s Hospital and UBC, by providing feedback to researchers on research questions and instruments relevant to youth.

The YAC operates under the leadership of the Division Adolescent Health and Medicine, and is managed by Sabrina Gill, Nurse Clinician, supported by Dr. Dzung Vo, Division Head.

Check out some of the YAC's past projects.

Watch a video made by the YAC, “Get Oriented to BC Children’s Hospital”!

Faculty:

Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP, FSAHM, Clinical Associate Professor, Division Head, Director of BC Children’s Hospital Centre for Mindfulness

Pei-Yoong Lam, MBBS, FRCPC Clinical Associate Professor, Medical Director, Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program

Eva Moore, MD, MSPh, Clinical Associate Professor and Program Director, Adolescent Medicine Subspecialty Residency and Clinical Fellowship Training Program

Sara Jassemi, MD, FRCPC Clinical Assistant Professor

Katie Mitchell, MD, Consulting Physician

Tara Tandan, MD, Clinical Instructor

Tatiana Sotindjo, MD, Clinical Instructor

Pouya Rezazedeh-Azar, MD, Consulting Physician, Clinical Instructor, Department of Psychiatry, UBC

Associate Faculty:

Sheila Marshall, PhD, School of Social Work, UBC

Grant Charles, PhD, School of Social Work, UBC

Sandy Whitehouse, MD, Clinical Associate Professor

Lynn Straatman, BSc, MD, FRCPC Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine (Cardiology and Palliative Care) and Department of Pediatrics (Adolescent Health and Medicine)

Affiliate Faculty:

Dewey Evans, PhD

Staff:

Sabrina Gill, BSN, Nurse Clinician

Judy Chavez, Division Secretary

Daisy Yin, Fellowship Program Coordinator

Kim-Ee Chong, Rotation Coordinator