A new medical sonography – also known as ultrasound – diploma program will take in its first batch of students in the fall of 2018 at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George.
“We’ve always had more students than we can handle in our original medical radiography program,” says Dr. Glenda Vardy Dell, Dean of the School of Health Sciences. “We’ve always left students behind on a waitlist. Most of those students have northern addresses – many then will choose to go to another school. Some of them we lose from the profession because they can’t get into a program.”
Currently, students have to go to BCIT in order to access training in sonography.
“This is very significant because students will have some options. They can do just the radiography or they can do the sonography as well. I think people from the north will probably opt for the dual credential. What’s more important is that rural centers want people that are duly credentialed – people that can do the radiography piece and the sonography piece. They’re more suited for some of these smaller centers that are difficult to recruit to.”
She says that many rural communities have part-time positions for both radiography and sonography – but it’s difficult to attract qualified practitioners to part time positions.
“Nobody wants to go to a small community and only work part-time. If we can combine some of those skill sets, I think that will meet our northern communities capacity little bit better.”
The province is providing $1.5 million dollars for equipment and renovations to support the new program, $494,000 in annual operating funding and $400,000 for one-time start-up costs.
The first 16 graduates are expected in 2020.
(Files from Shannon Waters with MYPRINCEGEORGENOW)