Funding of $9.9 million has been approved for the Northern Health Learning and Development Centre at the University Hospital of Northern B.C.
"This project continues the significant investments that have been made to improve training and education opportunities for healthcare professionals here in Northern BC," said Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount, on behalf of Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. "We know that our strategy to train doctors here is working and we have to ensure that they have the resources and facilities that will keep them here serving Northern families. This project is the result of a great deal of work by a group of physicians, our post-secondary institutions and Northern Health and demonstrates the power of effective partnerships."
The business case for the centre has received approval from the Province and can move forward to next steps. The centre is expected to have space designed to facilitate and promote inter-disciplinary learning, clinical research and innovation.
"The integration of technology into the learning and development centre will provide new opportunities to students, residents, and instructors by providing an expanded ability to collaborate despite being in separate locations hundreds of kilometres away," said Pat Bell, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie.
The project is an important partnership between the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and University of British Columbia (UBC) to enhance training and learning opportunities. The 128 undergraduate medical students in UBC's Northern Medical program spend most of their time in Prince George, at both UNBC and UHNBC. In addition, 30 residents in various specialties are based at the hospital year-round, along with several visiting residents.
"Future physicians and other medical professionals interested in training with the UBC faculty of medicine Northern Medical Program with the hopes of living and working in rural and remote parts of the province need to know there are resources available for them to receive the best education possible," said John Rustad, MLA for Nechako Lakes. "The new facility in Prince George will enhance the fantastic resources already available and fill a need for the community."
The centre will include a library, seminar rooms, a simulation lab, video conferencing suites, and common areas. It will be built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standards. The centre will be a valuable resource for students and residents in the Northern Medical Program, and visiting residents from other locations.
"This centre will provide new opportunities for students, faculty and health professionals to interact in a learning and research-oriented environment." said Dr. Charles Jago, Northern Health Board chair. "This learning environment will support the delivery of high quality health services across the North."
The centre was announced in April 2012. It is expected the tender for the project will be issued in the summer of 2013. The procurement will be a stipulated price contract. Completion is scheduled for the summer of 2014.
"This much-needed centre will provide state-of-the-art facilities for the further development of medical education in northern B.C. for medical students, residents and physicians," said Dr. Paul Winwood, the UBC faculty of medicine's regional associate dean, Northern B.C., and vice-provost, medicine at UNBC. "Furthermore, its location and design are perfect for enhancing multi-disciplinary education and training."
"Once again three highly committed MLAs listened to what we had to say, and a responsible and responsive provincial government made this wonderful development possible," said Dr. Bert Kelly, executive director of the Northern Medical Society."Thank you Shirley Bond, Pat Bell and John Rustad."
The Province has more than doubled the number of first-year undergraduate medical school spaces in B.C., from 128 to 288 between 2003 and 2012, while also expanding residency spaces to keep pace with undergraduate program growth.
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