UBC’s Master of Occupational Therapy program has just wrapped up it’s first year of being expanded into Northern BC.
The expanded program was created with funding from the BC Government and is delivered in partnership with UNBC.
“The hope is that we’ll persuade them to stay and work in the North where we have a huge need,” said Dr. Paul Winwood, Regional Associate Dean for Northern BC’s UBC Faculty of Medicine and Associate Vice President for the Division of Medical Sciences at UNBC.
Winwood said prior to the expansion, few students would spend time in the North for placements.
“What we now have is 16 students who will spend the whole of their two-year course in Northern BC, based at UNBC, they will do their placements in Northern BC and graduate in Northern BC. It’s about training students in the location where we hope they’re going to settle in to practice.”
Winwood added the program is based out of the Prince George campus, but students have to opportunities to go to other northern communities such as Smithers or Fort St. John to get their clinical experience.
He said there’s a high demand for Occupational Therapists in the North.
“I know from talking to Occupational Therapists in Prince George, that they are turning away work the whole time,” Winwood said.
“We’re talking about people who need rehabilitation after illnesses, things like strokes, or after injuries, and they’re having to turn work away. There’s a huge unmet need, people are not getting the rehabilitation they need, and I suspect the problem is worse outside of Prince George.”