Northern communities have approved a disbursement of more than $160,000 this fiscal year to support students in the Northern Medical Program and the UNBC Family Nurse Practitioner program. The disbursement is the largest-ever from the Northern Medical Programs Trust (NMPT), a partnership involving UNBC and 30 local governments from around northern BC.
The majority of the funds provide financial assistance to students who are pursuing clinical experiences in northern and rural communities as part of their education. 370 student awards have been provided since the NMPT first started providing funding in 2006.
“Medical students in the Northern Medical Program have a unique opportunity to train in a setting that is as close to true-life practice as is possible,” says Dr. Justin Frey, a UNBC and NMP graduate practicing in Vanderhoof. “The NMPT removes some of the stress associated with paying for education as well as living expenses, allowing many of these well-rounded students to train while raising families. Placed together, the NMPT and NMP are allowing our area to produce top-quality physicians trained in the north for the north.” To date, of the Northern Medical Program graduates who have completed residency, about two-thirds are working in northern or rural communities.
The Trust held its annual general meeting on May 8 in conjunction with the North Central Local Government Association convention in Fort St. John. In addition to approving the disbursement for 2014-15, the Trust members elected Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen as NMPT president. He replaces Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, who served one year as NMPT President. Mackenzie Mayor Stephanie Killam is the new NMPT Vice-President.
The Trust directors also approved a plan to conduct a review of the Trust and its disbursement model.
“It’s a privilege to be chairing the Northern Medical Programs Trust in the same year that the Northern Medical Program turns 10 years old and UNBC itself celebrates its 25th anniversary,” says Mayor Thiessen. “These occasions provide a perfect opportunity to both review and renew the Trust to ensure that it can be as effective as possible at encouraging future healthcare practitioners to choose northern communities after they graduate.”
The NMPT is one of the most popular designations for UNBC donations. Over the last decade, more than 1,350 donors have contributed to the Trust and the endowment is currently valued at $9 million.