The fast-track program of the Respiratory Therapy program will have an additional 20 seats, which could potentially bring more access to the BC Interior.

TRU Chairperson for Allied Health Programs Mike Lemphers says there is currently a demand for the program’s graduates.

“Most of them tend to work in the public sector, so working within a hospital,” Lemphers explain, “most of our graduates tend to work in critical care, though they don’t have to. They can move out into other areas such as diagnostics or anything like that.”

Lemphers says there are openings in the Interior, including in Williams Lake, but there is a shortage of respiratory therapists. He adds that most graduates tend to go to the Lower Mainland, but jobs have been opening everywhere.

“What I’ve noticed, and this is just my personal assessment, people who get hired into a position in the Interior, or the Okanagan, or the Cariboo area, they tend to stay there,” Lemphers says, “people who get hired in the Lower Mainland may not stay there, depending on where they’re from or their financial system. They tend to stay in the field of respiratory therapy.”

Lemphers says the new fast-track seats in the program will increase access to the services.

“When you’re running short-staffed, then you have to cut back on some of the services you provide,” Lemphers explains, “It’s the same with the shortage of nurses, same as the shortage of respiratory therapists. If you don’t have the staff to run equipment, you have to cut back on some services.”

Lemphers says the employment percentage of graduates before the pandemic was around 90%-95%, and during the pandemic, it has grown to 100%.