‘More health-care specialists, better care for British Columbians’

Melanie Mark

NEW investments in the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for sonography and cardiovascular perfusion programs will mean more graduates and better health care for people in British Columbia, says the government.

“Students, health-care workers and patients have been calling on government to increase sonography training across the province for years, and we are answering that call with new and expanded programs in Northern B.C., Vancouver Island and now the Lower Mainland,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We’re investing in BCIT so more students can train for dynamic and rewarding health-care careers and deliver the high-quality care British Columbians rely upon.”

Government is investing a total of $2.5 million. Funding of $880,000 will support the expansion of BCIT’s diagnostic medical sonography and cardiovascular perfusion programs.

Eight first-year seats were added to the existing 32 sonography seats in September 2019. Another eight first-year seats will be added in 2020 for a total of 48 first-year seats.

Capital funding of $1.6 million will allow purchase of the necessary sonography equipment. Beginning in 2020, the cardiovascular perfusion program will expand by three seats – by moving the program intake from seven students every two years to an annual intake of five students.

“Our government wants to make sure people have even greater access to health care in B.C. We need even more caring, compassionate and well-trained people to make our health system work – from health sciences professionals to physicians and nurse practitioners,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Our announcement today will address the need for more health-care workers, which is one of the biggest challenges facing the health system.”

In fiscal 2020-21, the Province will provide $640,000 in operating funding toward northern B.C.’s first sonography program at the College of New Caledonia (CNC). In addition, capital funding of $1.5 million has been provided for equipment and renovations at CNC. In October 2019, the Province also announced Vancouver Island’s first Diagnostic Medical Sonography program at Camosun College with one-time funding of $1.4 million.

“BCIT was the first post-secondary to offer diagnostic sonography in B.C. and is one of only three institutions in Canada to teach cardiovascular profusion, both of which are critically important specialties in our growing health-care system,” said Kathy Kinloch, President, BCIT. “We are proud of the increasing number of graduates providing quality care to British Columbians, thanks to ongoing support from the provincial government. This funding helps ensure that we continue to provide state-of-the-art equipment and training to more skilled professionals essential to B.C.’s health-care workforce.”

As B.C.’s population continues to age, health professionals are in increasingly high demand – the 2018 BC Labour Market Outlook projected 82,100 job openings in the health professions by 2028. Cardiovascular perfusionists and sonographers are two of the top 13 health professions identified as in high demand.

Quick Facts:

* BCIT was the first public-sector institution in B.C. to offer a diagnostic medical sonography program.

* Medical sonographers operate ultrasound equipment to capture images to aid physicians in diagnosis and treatment of medical disorders, and to monitor pregnancies.

* Demand for ultrasounds has increased dramatically due to B.C.’s aging population and improvements to the technology and its capabilities. Increasing the number of training seats will help address that need and expand the capacity of health-service providers.

* Cardiovascular perfusionists are key members of highly specialized surgical teams. They provide life-saving support to patients undergoing heart and lung surgery by operating complex specialized equipment, such as a cardiopulmonary bypass machine (heart-lung machine), during surgery.