North Island College planning to offer specialized health education
North Island College plans to offer specialized rural healthcare education that other British Columbia colleges may not offer.
NIC president and CEO Dr. Jan Lindsay said the college wants establish a Centre of Excellence for Rural Healthcare Education, which would not likely be a physical building, but instead would be a cluster of leading edge programming that would be very centred in the area of rural healthcare.
"It would be very focused on the needs of rural communities, and that's where it would be specific programming that you might not find at other colleges necessarily because we would be looking at things that, for example, serve our aboriginal populations — some of their healthcare needs," explained Lindsay.
She added the centre could become a physical space in the future if the college chooses to create a lab for research or something of that nature.
This programming would be developed with an influx of $2.75 million over a minimum 10-year period from the Vancouver Island Health Authority.
NIC and VIHA signed the Health Education Partnership and Program Funding agreement a couple of weeks ago.
Lindsay noted the funding is tied to the completion of the new hospital in the Comox Valley, and would start rolling in closer to the estimated completion date of the hospital, which is in 2017.
VIHA would transfer $200,000 to the college each year for five years to help with the development of programming for the centre. Then the work done would be reviewed to evaluate goals, benefits and outcomes, adjust goals as required, and the terms would be finalized for the second five-year funding period.
VIHA would also give $250,000 per year for a minimum three years to fund the development and delivery of health education programs targeted to fill positions in rural areas, such as cross-trained medical lab diagnostic imaging technologists and pharmacy technologists.
Although Lindsay noted the Centre of Excellence programming is still in the idea stage, and funding is tied to the completion of the hospitals, she said the college and VIHA have been meeting and a steering committee is being set up now.
She also noted the a feasibility study is already underway for the health education programs cross-training students to fill rural healthcare positions.
The programming would likely be delivered using technology more than face-to-face teaching to reach students in remote communities of the North Island more easily.
This agreement is separate from the land sale agreement between the college and VIHA, which sees NIC Comox Valley campus land transferred to VIHA for the purpose of the new Comox Valley Hospital.
Lindsay pointed out that while the new hospital will serve the community, it will also serve the the surrounding area, and this includes remote communities.
"And so that's where we're seeing the synergies between what they're (VIHA) doing and North Island College as a post-secondary educator, that we can come in and start to provide the educational training that will train the personnel that's required within that hospital, but also in some of these remote locations," explained Lindsay, adding the Comox Valley campus of the college's proximity to the new hospital would create more opportunities for healthcare training at the college.
She said the agreement is a "very significant step forward" for the college and the community, especially because the increasing demand for various types of healthcare workers.
"And it's also a field that offers many high-paying and stable jobs," added Lindsay. "It's really going to provide future students the opportunity to come to the college to get a very specific type of training that's going to lead them into employment."