In the effort to attract and retain healthcare professionals, northern communities are working together with UNBC to enhance local educational experiences for students. More than 30 northern local governments are members of the NMPT, a partnership with UNBC to provide financial support for students in the Northern Medical Program, the Nurse Practitioner program, and Nursing. Yesterday, Trust members approved more than $200,000 in funding – the largest annual disbursement since the Trust first began providing student awards in 2006.
In addition to continuing support for medical and nurse practitioner students, Northern Medical Programs Trust members approved a plan at their annual general meeting yesterday to add awards for UNBC nursing students. The members of the Trust are also supporting several other new initiatives:
- Enhanced funding for the Healthcare Traveling Roadshow, aimed at showcasing health careers to high school students
- A graduation prize for Northern Medical Program students pursuing residency in Northern BC
- Creating a community engagement program to increase the connections between communities and visiting students.
These initiatives emerged from a review of the Trust this past year to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Northern Medical Program.
Trust investment helps support students in pursuing hands-on learning experiences in northern and rural communities as part of their education. To date, nearly 450 student awards have been distributed.
"I really enjoyed my time shadowing in the Mackenzie Emergency Department. It was a great way to get clinical exposure in a hospital setting, something we don't normally experience until our third year," said Julia Varghese, a second-year Northern Medical Program student. "What I found really interesting was the aspect of rural medicine and how to manage patients in communities with more limited resources, such as how to manage a head trauma with the nearest CT scanner two hours away, something you don't have to really think about in a bigger centre. As I may end up practicing in a more rural area, this support from the Trust gave me a wonderful learning opportunity to build on as I continue my studies."
As well as approving student award allocations at their AGM, Trust members elected Electoral Area C Director John Massier from the Cariboo Regional District as NMPT president. Massier also serves as the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District Chair. He replaces Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, who served one year as president. Brian Downie, a councillor in Terrace, is the NMPT Vice-President.
“The primary goal of the Trust, since its founding, has been to provide students with an opportunity to experience first-hand what it is like to work and live in our Northern BC region,” says Director Massier. “In getting to know our communities and residents, we hope to inspire these future health care practitioners to consider our region as a viable and exciting place to establish their career."
The NMPT is one of the most popular designations for UNBC donations. Since its establishment in 2002, more than 1,350 donors have contributed to the Trust and the endowment is currently valued at over $9.5 million.