Health care program at TRU gets a booster shot

Government funding means more seats for health care assistant training

TRU’s health care assistant pro­gram will expand in 2015 thanks to government funds.

The university is accepting ap­plications to fill 43 extra seats at TRU’s main campus and its Wil­liams Lake campus. There are cur­rently 64 students enrolled in the seven-month program at TRU’s main campus.

“Normally we have seats avail­able in September and January. This third cohort is going to be offered for March 2015,” dean of nursing Donna Murnaghan said.

According to Murnaghan, the university usually fills all the seats in the program each year. She add­ed that the demand for workers is usually greater than the program has graduates to fill, particularly in senior’s facilities and rural ar­eas.

“That’s why it’s been important to offer (the program) both in Ka­mloops as well as Williams Lake,” she said.

How to (not) put your back into it. Health care assistant students demonstrate how to move an elderly patient with a lift. (Alexis Stockford/The Omega)

How to (not) put your back into it. Health care assistant students demonstrate how to move an elderly patient with a lift.
(Alexis Stockford/The Omega)

In early December, TRU an­nounced that it would receive $356,000 from the province, the most out of six other B.C. colleges and universities to receive simi­lar funding. In total, $1.5 million will be dispensed province-wide to short-term health education of one year or less. According to local MLA and B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake, the additional fund­ing is due partly to the province’s aging population and increased demand for geriatric care.

“We recognize that there is a need for health care assistants around the province, and so we asked post-secondary institutions to put in proposals that would point to the need in the areas they serve and talk about the quality of programing,” Lake said at the funding announcement.

“TRU was top notch. There is a need in our area for health care assistants and the quality of pro­gramming here is exemplary.”

Health care assistant student Darcy Watson said she thinks the increased funding will lead to a jump in the program’s popularity.

“A lot of people don’t realize how easy it is to get into the pro­gram and how great and beneficial it is and now that there are more spots opening up and the funding I think that there will be a higher demand for it,” she said.

Watson entered the program in order to “get a feel” for the health care field.

“I wanted to do a nursing pro­gram, but I have two small chil­dren, so the four years [nursing requires] isn’t really ideal for me right now,” she said.

Since the additional seats were announced, TRU has been actively promoting the program to attract applicants. “We’ve been advertis­ing in the newspaper, we’ve been advertising on Facebook,” Murnaghan said.

TRU also received $100,000 from the Provincial Health Ser­vices Authority for the respiratory therapy program.

“This is a very unique pro­gram and, again, as people age, pulmonary problems, breathing problems, respiratory problems are more common…so respira­tory therapists play an extremely important role on the health care team,” Lake said.