Health care professionals looking to upgrade their education will now have a chance, thanks to funding from the provincial government. 

Thompson Rivers University received $395,000 to provide clinical refreshers and fast-track training for respiratory therapists who may care for critically ill patients. 

Rani Srivastava, the dean of nursing at Thompson Rivers University, said that the funding would help prepare B.C.’s healthcare industry for a possible second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Having more respiratory therapists available to be able to support people, especially in a pandemic, is important,” she said. “Things are going well in B.C., but we have to be prepared. It’s particularly helpful to have practitioners to be able to respond quickly.” 

An additional $800,000 will fund cohort-based anesthesia assistant training and enhance a program for licensed practical nurses who wish to further their education with a bachelor of science in nursing. 

The additional funding, Srivastava said, is essential because it allows nurses to better their education and better the healthcare system. 

“There are so many nursing and other health care vacancies,” she said. “That’s where it is really helpful because I think it is helping nurses who want to be able to come to registered nurses to be able to do so.” 

Srivastava said the money would primarily be used for staff. 

“Our program does not just have a classroom, but students go into the lab, and they go into the practicum like in field placements,” she said. “When you have more students, you have more groups, so you need more faculty and support.” 

The program will be in Kamloops, and Srivastava added that they have students coming from the Cariboo region. 

The funding is a part of more than $4.4 million for a variety of health profession-related education and training at B.C. post-secondary institutions this year.