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Grants to come for health-care students in the north

Communities in Northern B.C. will invest more than $215,000 to support local health-care student education and recruitment initiatives
Directors of the Northern Medical Programs Trust 2016-17: (L-R) Paul Winwood

Communities in Northern B.C. will invest more than $215,000 in the coming year, through the Northern Medical Programs Trust, to support local health-care student education and recruitment initiatives in the North.

The Trust, a partnership between UNBC and more than 30 northern local governments, provides financial support for students in the Northern Medical Program, the Nursing program, and the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) graduate program. In addition to continued support for established grants in 2016-17, Northern Medical Programs Trust (NMPT) members approved funding for two new initiatives at their recent annual general meeting:

· A bursary program for UNBC undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need who intend to apply for a health professional program at UNBC.

· A Family Nurse Practitioner Award available to FNP graduates who accept a nursing position within the region of the North Central Local Government Association (up to two awards).

Trust investment helps health-care students integrate unique clinical experiences in northern and rural communities with their education. More than 550 student awards have been disbursed since the NMPT first began providing awards in 2006.

“With support from the Trust, a fellow student and I undertook a shadowing opportunity in Valemount with a local physician who spent a lot of time with us talking about rural medicine and its unique challenges,” said Ross Williams, a second-year Northern Medical Program student. “We learned about patient transfers and on-call responsibility, as well as the importance of community engagement and using a team-based approach to patient care.”

During the AGM, Trust members re-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. Lyn Hall, mayor of Prince George, was elected as NMPT Vice-President.

“Since its start, the Trust has been focused on the recruitment and retention of health-care professionals in Northern communities,” said Director Massier. “Through clinical opportunities supported by the NMPT, students are able to experience northern lifestyle and rural health service delivery first-hand, helping them better understand, and envision, future practice and career opportunities in our region.”

Since its establishment in 2002, the NMPT has been one of the most popular designations for UNBC donations and the endowment is currently valued at more than $9.5 million.