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.
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.