Demand for health-care workers will be fastest-growing

By Chad Klassen
November 5, 2015 - 1:36am

Nursing students are the future of health care, the fastest-growing demand in the Thompson-Cariboo region in the next 10 years.

A labour market study, released Friday by Venture Kamloops, reveals that out of the 35,000 workers needed in the region by 2025, about 2,500 are in health care.

Across B.C., it's estimated that over 20,000 new nurses will be required in the next decade. 

"When we look at the age demographic of the current practicing RNs, that age demographic is actually quite high, and a lot of them will be leading into retirement," says the Associate Dean of Nursing Donna Petri. 

Currently, TRU accepts 80 nursing students every year out of about 500 applicants from across the country. 

"80 seats definitely doesn't fill the void within the region," says Petri. "All of our graduates get jobs, get the jobs they would like to get. Some graduates leave the area, but we definitely have the high demand and we certainly could fill extra spaces." 

The B.C. government has already increased the number of spaces in the health-care assistant program, in september providing a one-time grant of $275,000 for 32 additional spaces. 

There's also plans in place to expand the nursing and respiratory programs, with a new health science building. The university says that will come after it builds the new industrial training and technology centre in about two years. 

"We are just now starting to plan that space, and there's a lot of bureaucracy and a lot of financial struggles to get by before we come to those realizations," says Vice-President of Advancement at TRU Christopher Seguin.

TRU also says there are no plans to bring a medical school to Kamloops, or any other specialty health programs. 

"Med schools are incredibly expensive and that is not on the horizon here," says Seguin. "However, we specialize in nursing and respiratory therapy and a whole bunch of health professions that are key to the system."

But Petri says an expansion to nursing isn't as easy as a new building and more students. She says with a lack of beds at Royal Inland Hospital, it may not provide the necessary acute-care training students would need.

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