By Rafael Ford
A new grant will feed the need for new Alberta health professionals.
On Jan. 18, the government of Alberta announced $38 million in grants, almost entirely directed at expanding Alberta health education.
"These program expansions are in keeping with our commitment to enable at least 1,200 more full time equivalent students to enter high priority fields of learning," said Alberta Learning Minister Lyle Oberg.
Beginning Sept. 2001, there will be room for an additional 101 nursing students–60 in Calgary and 41 in Medicine Hat–and an additional 11 spots in the Faculty of Medicine. 85 to 90 per cent of students admitted into either faculty must be from Alberta.
"Now we’ll be able to fast-track," said Dean of Nursing Dr. Deborah Tamlyn. "That’s what the program is called, a Bachelor of Nursing accelerated-track."
The accelerated track program is aimed at students already enrolled in an Alberta post-secondary institution.
"It’s not targeted towards students coming out of high school, it’s targeted towards students who either have a prior degree or have worked off the non-nursing credits [options]," said Tamlyn.
In previous years, nursing students would split their time between the U of C and Mount Royal in a joint program, but this will be eliminated and the number of first-year nursing spaces at the U of C alone will drop.
"Students coming from high school and coming into nursing this September have a choice of applying to the University or Mount Royal or wherever, but they can’t apply to a joint program any longer," said Tamlyn.
The nursing admission average–currently 65 per cent–will also change due to the increased demand.
"Given that we will drop by approximately 50 per cent in the number of seats that we have for students coming out of high school, the admission average will need to be set at a higher level," said Tamlyn.
Admission standards to the Faculty of Medicine will not change, but now 100 seats, up from 69 a year ago, are available to first-year medical students. The cash infusion is a welcome one.
"There is a societal need [for more doctors]," said Dean of Medicine Dr. Grant Gall.
"The CRHA has added 70 hospital beds and 434 intensive care beds," added Roman Cooney, CRHA Vice-president Communications. "These beds will require health professionals."
With the expansion, Tamlyn wants more diversity in the graduates coming from the U of C program to create a mix of staff that mirrors society’s diversity.
"It’s our hope that we will attract higher numbers of male students and representatives from greater ethnic diversity," stated Tamlyn.