Province Funds Training Places for Lab Assistants, Social Workers and Pharmacy Technicians

British Columbia is adding 322 training seats at post-secondary institutions across the province for clinical pharmacists, laboratory technologists, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals.

British Columbia is adding 322 training seats at post-secondary institutions across the province for clinical pharmacists, laboratory technologists, physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals.

This includes 15 new social worker seats at the University of Victoria and one-time funding of up to $228,720 for Camosun College’s Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant program, which will reduce tuition costs by $9,530 for a total $5,000 for those starting classes in September.

In addition, Vancouver Island University will receive 15 pharmacy technician positions in partnership with Selkirk College.

The Camosun Medical Laboratory Assistant program has 24 places, 21 of which are already filled.

“Absolutely, the laboratory division of medicine is suffering from a staff shortage,” said program leader Alex Purdy. “We have seen the impact here in Victoria, for sure, through our staff in the public and private sectors of [laboratories].”

Purdy said the tuition cut is a “huge bonus” for students.

In June, Island Health highlighted a nationwide shortage of trained lab staff by temporarily closing a medical lab in Sidney. The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science last year called for action to address labor shortages in the field, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a factor.

At UVic, Helga Hallgrimsdottir, dean of the Faculty of Human and Social Development, said the new social worker seats will be reserved for master’s students, increasing the number at the university from 20 to 35 currently.

“It’s always good news to have more students,” she says. “And it’s part of a renewed mission and commitment with a truly supportive community.”

Incoming master’s students already have a degree and work experience, Hallgrimsdottir said.

“They work in the area of ​​harm reduction, with young people coming in and out of care, they work in the areas of substance abuse and homelessness. »

Some of those jobs are in government, while others are in the nonprofit sector, she said.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the public had told the government how important it was to have more health services.

“That’s why we’re helping public post-secondary institutions grow and create pathways to bring more healthcare workers into the system. »

Dix said there is still a lot to do “and we will continue our work to develop the health workforce in British Columbia.”

In addition to having more spaces, the province is also investing more than $10 million in scholarships and professional development.

In addition, there will be a new program to help advanced care paramedics from other provinces and countries transition to work in British Columbia, and up to 20 accelerated seats at Thompson Rivers University for respiratory therapists.

Kane Tse, president of the Health Sciences Association, a union representing more than 20,000 acute care, long-term care and community health professionals, said more training places will help “fill ’emergency’ many skilled positions.

Earlier this year, the nurse practitioner program at UVic expanded, as did similar programs at the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern British Columbia.

The chronic shortage of doctors in British Columbia has dominated health care headlines in recent months. It is estimated that one in five British Columbians does not have a family doctor.

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