Province donates money to create more MDs and nurses

By Alex Khalifa

The provincial government stepped up initiatives to combat Alberta’s health care crisis with funding for more positions in the medical and nursing faculties at the University of Calgary.

Last week the province announced it had allocated $4 million to increase the seating availability to medical doctors and nursing students, thus allowing the enrolment of 10 more MDs and upwards of 20 more nursing undergraduates annually. Seven more positions have been opened this year for graduate students in the faculty of nursing and an additional 21 positions will be added for the 2008/09 year.

“This shows the continuation of the government working with the university to meet the needs of the students and faculty,” said U of C external relations director Colleen Turner. “[It] displays their recognition that there is a critical need in both present and future funding for health care in the post-secondary sector.”

This was furthered by Calgary Health Region’s executive director of workforce strategies Susan Cassidy.

“The Government is responding to a great need in the health sector by increasing seats in the MD and nursing faculties,” said Cassidy. “This is a good start; however they need to do more. We need to work with the government to persuade and influence their further decisions for the 2008 year which will be important for the furthered funding of medical and nursing enrolment.”

For now the CHR is working on many fronts to combat and solve present concerns over the lack of health care professionals in the province.

“There is no one solution to this situation,” noted Cassidy. “We are doing recruitment efforts, locally, nationally and internationally.”

This was exemplified by the Overseas Recruitment Campaign initiated by the Alberta Health Region to tap into the international health care workforce.

“The needs in the health care sector are great and we can’t get all our needs currently from local means,” said Cassidy. “The increase in funding for more positions in the post-secondary sector is a good start–however these initiatives will meet future needs, not present ones. As a result, such actions as the Overseas Recruitment Campaign have to be taken.”

Despite the need for a current health care workforce, the funding will introduce a new standard in the education of medical professionals. This was seen with the $40,000 contribution from the U of C Student’s Union campus improvement fund. Because of this, the U of C faculty of nursing is already en route to becoming one of the country’s leading post-secondary institutions in graduate nursing education.

SU vice-president academic Brittany Sargent explained the nursing faculty has been working hard to become a leader in nursing education.

“Any funding for students is a good thing,” said Sargent. “We are excited to see this initiative and hopefully more in the future.”

The announcement displayed the growing initiative to educate tomorrow’s health care workforce noted SU nursing representative Jenna Baumgartner.

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