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Campus Life  

Education hits the right note for Okanagan College

Okanagan College Media Release

Professional figure skater Nina Greschner arrived at Okanagan College last fall and traded in her skates for headphones and a mixing board as she stepped into a new career and launched a cutting-edge business focused on helping other athletes achieve their best.Nina Greschner Oct 2108

Greschner has been immersed in the figure skating world for more than 30 years. She got her start at age four and was competitive for many years until she transformed her skills into a long-time career travelling abroad with Disney On Ice. After completing more than a decade with Disney, Greschner moved to coaching.

“One of the coach’s responsibilities is the music, which sets the tone for the performance,” explains Greschner. “Finding the right piece of music is no easy feat and I thought to myself, ‘why not create my own?’”

Armed with an original business idea in mind to produce custom music for athletes’ performances, Greschner enrolled in the College’s Audio Engineering and Music Production (AEMP) certificate course to get the necessary training to make her business idea happen.

“I envisioned a niche business helping coaches and choreographers eliminate the problem solving of music and focus their attention on the creation of the performance,” explains Greschner. “I knew I needed a better technical understanding of music editing and how to achieve the perfect tone and energy.”

Greschner experienced first-hand the benefits of small class sizes as she not only worked through the program with her instructors, they even took time to help her flush out her business, Composed Music Services, which she successfully launched in her hometown of Revelstoke this fall.

“One of the really unique things about the AEMP certificate was the wide array of students, each who had something different they wanted to do with their education,” she explained. “You’ve got this one educational program that is appealing to DJs, musicians, stage production workers and business owners – it was really neat to hear everyone’s plans.”

The AEMP program offers students hands-on education and prepares them for a rewarding career in the Music Production industry.

“This program gives students the unique experience of industry opportunities, hands-on training and a network of alumni who love what they do,” says Corey Bell, who has been the lead instructor of the program at Okanagan College since 2012. “It is focused on a learner-centered approach and I work with each student to help them identify and meet their goals within the training.”

The next intake of the AEMP certificate program begins Jan. 7 and those interested can attend an information session coming up at the Kelowna campus on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in Room A138. Attendees will have a chance to check out equipment, software and other demos and talk with instructors, students and graduates of the program. To find out more information, visit okanagan.bc.ca/aemp or call 250-862-5480.

 



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Food recovery project supports rural Kootenay community

UBC medical student Maegan Stuart.

UBC medical student Maegan Stuart.

UBC medical student helps address food security in Kimberley

A UBC medical student has helped tackle the problem of food security in a rural BC town.

Access to healthy foods is a common challenge for vulnerable populations in small communities like Kimberley, explains Dr. Ilona Hale, clinical assistant professor with the Southern Medical Program (SMP).

Hale, who is also chair of the Healthy Kimberley Society, says people often rely on food banks and other community programs to subsidize their household needs. But food options at those places can be limited. Food banks in smaller communities typically need to balance limited financial resources with a lack of commercial-scale refrigerated space to house fresh produce, she explains.

“Most food bank items are non-perishable, canned and dry foods,” says Hale. “Certain groups don’t have the financial means to regularly access healthy, fresh foods.”

This past spring, SMP student Maegan Stuart reached out to Hale to see how she could help address this problem as part of her training to become a doctor.

“A substantial amount of food thrown out at grocery stores is fresh fruit and vegetables that don’t look nice,” says Stuart. “The idea of a food rescue project is to divert perfectly-edible food from the landfill to programs that feed the community.”

At the time, Stuart was in Kimberley consulting with potential user groups including the food bank, school lunch programs, churches and seniors’ organizations. Following a similar model of food recovery projects in other small communities in BC and the United Kingdom, Stuart helped kick-start the process of securing suitable storage space, coordinating refrigeration equipment and recruiting volunteers. The final stop was the local Save-On-Foods grocery store where the local manager eagerly offered to donate all of their excess produce, dairy and other perishables.

“Liability is the most commonly cited reason for grocery stores declining to participate,” says Stuart. “Fortunately, the Food Donor Encouragement Act in BC protects companies from product liability when donating food. Once we explained how they are protected and could potentially save thousands of dollars in disposal costs, they were fully on board.”

At the end of August, the Healthy Kimberley Society secured a $95,000 grant from the Columbia Basin Trust to hire a part-time coordinator and launch the project in the fall.

“Maegan worked really hard to pull all the necessary stakeholders together and build a successful business case,” adds Hale. “Although we have been thinking about this kind of project for some time, Maegan’s work really helped us get it going.”

Now into her third year of medical school, Stuart is currently training at Kelowna General Hospital.

“I have a strong interest in preventative medicine and supporting long-lasting change,” says Stuart. “This project will help improve lives on a long-term basis and that means everything to me.”

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



UBC Okanagan opens its doors, welcomes the community home

Jon Montgomery, who won a gold medal in men’s skeleton at the Vancouver Olympics, is speaking at Nourish, this Saturday at UBC Okanagan.

Jon Montgomery, who won a gold medal in men’s skeleton at the Vancouver Olympics, is speaking at Nourish, this Saturday at UBC Okanagan.

Homecoming is a chance to rediscover and reconnect with the campus

UBC Okanagan is welcoming its alumni, and the community, home for the weekend.

The campus is hosting a two-day Homecoming event, starting with breakfast on Friday, October 19 and wrapping up after a full day of activities on Saturday, October 20.

It’s time, says Deborah Buszard, UBC Okanagan’s deputy vice-chancellor and principal, to celebrate the growth and diversity of the campus, which officially opened in September 2005 with 3,500 students.

Today, there are almost 10,000 students on campus, with students coming from across Canada and more than 108 countries.

“Having graduated more than 17,000 alumni and counting, the timing could not be better for UBC Okanagan to host its first ever Homecoming,” says Buszard. “This campus is special—it’s a community-minded and entrepreneurial place that empowers students—and we know many of our graduates think of it as home. We look forward to welcoming them back.”

With the Commons, a $35-million addition to the current library, almost ready for occupancy, and two new student residence buildings in the planning stages, the campus has changed a lot since it first welcomed students 13 years ago, says Buszard. In fact, back then there were 13 buildings on campus, now there are 35.

“We encourage our alumni, and the community, to come to campus to see what has changed,” she adds. “There is so much going on and it will be a great opportunity get reacquainted with old friends, tour some of our buildings, or even watch a soccer match between rivals the UBC Thunderbirds and our own UBC Okanagan Heat.”

The kick-off breakfast is free for students, $3 for others, and takes place on University Way starting at 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning. The Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies is hosting a visual arts alumni exhibition in the FINA Gallery starting at 4 p.m., while the School of Engineering is showcasing current research with lab tours, and the canine friends of BARK (Building Academic Retention Through K9’s) will be showcased from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

Streetfest, an evening of food trucks, beer gardens, carnival games and line-dancing, takes place on University Way starting at 6 p.m. Okanagan recording artist Ben Klick will provide the music for the evening.

Saturday is jam-packed with walking tours, an engineering extravaganza complete with trebuchet competition, a chemistry display complete with explosions and liquid nitrogen ice cream, and a campus-wide scavenger race.

The featured event, Nourish, is an evening with Canadian Olympic champion Jon Montgomery at 6 p.m. Montgomery, host of The Amazing Race Canada, will share the story of his Olympic journey and discuss the lessons he learned about teamwork, leadership and dreaming big. The event concludes with a harvest-themed reception with samplings from the Okanagan’s finest chefs, wineries, craft breweries and cideries. Tickets for Nourish are $50 and available at ok.ubc.ca/homecoming/nourish

Buszard says all students, faculty, staff, alumni, family and community members are encouraged to come back home to UBC Okanagan for the weekend and enjoy Homecoming. Details and registration for events are available at: ok.ubc.ca/homecoming.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



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Tolko chips in for Vernon youth

Okanagan College Media Release

Tolko Oct 2018Sixteen year old Vernon Secondary School student Nemo Des Mazes says she prefers working with her hands and building things rather than sitting in a classroom.

When the chance came to take part in the Youth Trades Explorer Sampler at Okanagan College, she eagerly signed up. The program gives high school students an opportunity to discover the trades as a career with hands-on technical training in six fields including plumbing, carpentry and electrical.

The innovative program, a partnership between School District 22 and the College, is not only attracting students, it’s also garnered the interest and support of a local employer.

Tolko Industries has donated $11,000 plus in-kind support toward the training at Okanagan College.

“We are passionate about youth and this fits with our long-term strategy to build our workforce and our communities,” says Tanya Wick, Tolko’s Vice President, People and Services.

“This program is helping young people gain the skills and experience that can help set them up for success.”

While this year’s student cohort is only in their second week of trades training, they’ve already progressed from building a deck chair to picnic tables. The lumber for their projects was also donated from Tolko’s Armstrong mill.

“It’s always very meaningful for us at the College to see an employer in the region invest in the training of our students,” says Teresa Kisilevich, Okanagan College’s Associate Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship.

“Students see that local businesses want them to succeed.”

Both School District 22 and Okanagan College are interested in elevating trades training as a career choice for students earlier on in their education.

The program can be a game changer for students who aren’t always successful in academics by empowering them to dive and explore a variety of trades at a full-time level for 10 weeks, according to Joe Rogers, Superintendent of Schools at School District 22.

“This gives kids an opportunity to go towards their passion. If you put a kid where they are happy they will do good work,” says Rogers.

“It’s also a win-win for our community as there is a shortage of trades workers.”

Patrick Kenny, who is participating in the current program says he’s always known that he’s wanted to get into the trades.

“I am really liking the program, and the College is welcoming,” he says.

In addition to lumber, Tolko is exploring how else it can support the Youth Trades Sampler program, including having the students take a tour of their Armstrong mill.

The students are working in Okanagan College’s new Trades Training Centre, which opened in August. The $6.2-million, 1,250 square-metre (13,450 square-foot) facility can accommodate approximately 150 students per year and features a dedicated welding shop and multi-use spaces in which the College can deliver training in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing and pipefitting, along with specialized training like the Youth Trades Sampler.

 



OC natural gas reduction has a long history

Okanagan College Media Release

 

With the pressure on FortisBC natural gas customers to reduce consumption because of the pipeline explosion in Prince George this week, Okanagan College energy managers are inspired to continue to explore new ways to reduce reliance on the energy source.

Fortis has not reached out to the College to ask it to reduce consumption and that comes as little surprise.

“We use very little gas at this time of year,” explains Rob St. Onge, Okanagan College’s energy manager. “The reason for that is because of the energy reduction and conservation initiatives we have taken over the past years. We’d still counsel our staff and students to think about how they might be able to reduce their gas consumption in light of the circumstances in Prince George.”

St. Onge, and Peter Csandl, manager of plant services and operations, point to recent construction projects as part of the reason. “Many of our buildings use no gas or very little gas due to recent energy upgrades or alternative forms of heat,” explains St. Onge. “All of our boilers on all campuses have been upgraded to high efficiency condensing boilers which use much less gas. Interestingly, Fortis rebates helped fund these projects.”

“Our newer buildings also use exhaust air heat recovery which dramatically reduces heating requirements,” says Csandl. “That’s in place in the Centre of Excellence in Penticton, the Centre for Learning and the Trades Complex in Kelowna, and the Child Care Centre in Penticton.”

A significant portion of the College’s largest campus – Kelowna – relies on an innovative heat-recovery system (drawing from the nearby City of Kelowna waste water treatment plant) for heat – that doesn’t require natural gas for much of the year.

“Over the past many years, our goal has been to reduce our carbon footprint, and we’ve certainly done that,” says St. Onge. He points to data that shows while the College’s physical footprint has grown 38.8 per cent since 2008, the overall natural gas consumption has decreased 32.2 per cent. On a per square metre basis, that means consumption of natural gas has dropped by more than half – 51.7 per cent – in a decade. (Electrical consumption, incidentally, dropped by 19 per cent per square metre in the same time period.)

“We are focused on conservation and energy savings as part of our commitment to sustainability,” explains Csandl, “And we will continue to look at ways that we can do that and incorporate the greenest possible building and renovation techniques to help move us toward a carbon-zero environment.”

 




UBC opens new Innovation Hub in downtown Kelowna

Panelists participate in a discussion about entrepreneurship at this Innovation UBC Kelowna Hub opening Thursday.

Panelists participate in a discussion about entrepreneurship at this Innovation UBC Kelowna Hub opening Thursday.

Research findings and entrepreneurial spirit come together at Innovation Hub

From wearable technology that monitors physical activity to an online rental platform, UBC entrepreneurs showcased their ideas at the opening of the Innovation UBC Kelowna Hub, Thursday.

Located in Kelowna’s Innovation Centre, the downtown facility provides a space for the UBC community to interact with the region’s innovation network.

“For more than a century, UBC’s discoveries and spin-off companies have played key roles in advancing technology, natural resources and life sciences sectors,” says Gail Murphy, UBC's vice-president of research and innovation. “The Innovation UBC network will further support entrepreneurial learning and collaboration with industry and the broader community to generate local, national and global impact.”

The goal of the Innovation UBC hubs, located in downtown Vancouver and Kelowna, is to combine research findings and entrepreneurial spirit to develop innovative new products, policies and practices that will improve lives around the world. With the help of dedicated mentors, program partners and sponsors, the Innovation UBC Kelowna Hub will support research partnerships, commercialization, knowledge exchange and entrepreneurship activities, explains Phil Barker, vice-principal of research and innovation at UBC Okanagan.

“The enthusiasm and support of the community has been incredibly strong,” says Barker. “We can already see how the bold thinking of our entrepreneurs, researchers and partners is having a positive social and economic impact.”

UBC’s partnership with Accelerate Okanagan provides entrepreneurial training and support to researchers and students to create new ventures and bring their innovations to market.

"UBC has been a long-time supporter of the Okanagan tech community and a partner of Accelerate Okanagan since the beginning. This new hub at the Innovation Centre is another great example of our community-building collaboration in action. We know that success stories like Happipad and Trellis are just the beginning and we are excited to see our partnership continue to grow and strengthen the innovation ecosystem and tech sector here," says Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan.

“Our hope is that the hub will open up new pathways to innovation in the region and beyond,” adds Barker. “We are excited to contribute to the entrepreneurial landscape.”
For more information about Innovation UBC, visit: innovation.ubc.ca/impact

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



UBC researchers dig to get to the root of lavender’s secrets

UBC Okanagan Professor Soheil Mahmoud (second from left) teaches students in a small lavender field on the Okanagan campus.

UBC Okanagan Associate Professor Soheil Mahmoud, third from left, teaches students in a small lavender field on the Okanagan campus.

Team identifies complete genetic makeup of lavender plant

A team of researchers, including UBC’s Soheil Mahmoud, have recently sequenced the genome of lavender.

Mahmoud, an associate professor of biology at UBC Okanagan, says lavender has many uses, from essential oils, to fragrances, personal hygiene and pharmaceutical industries.

“We have studied lavender for a long time,” says Mahmoud. “We have always been curious about this plant. Why is it drought tolerant? Why is it pest tolerant? What makes it smell so sweet?”

The reason why scientists want to get to the root of lavender’s secrets is because it’s an important crop plant that significantly contributes to the multi-billion dollar, and continually growing, essential oil industry.

Thanks to the work of fellow researches, Professor Ping Liang from Brock University and doctoral student Radesh N Malli, the team has sequenced the lavender genome. Basically, creating new pathways to further development and research.

“The best way to describe our findings is that we have built the roadmap for the discovery of the genetic elements that define lavender. Now researchers can follow our map and go into the wilderness and explore even further,” says Mahmoud. “It’s opening the door for more analysis of the plant for its future potential.”

For example, the draft genome helps scientists quickly discover genes that direct essential oil production, to understand regulatory elements that control the expression of these genes, and to learn how the genome works as a whole. Additionally, the genome sequence can help researchers develop genetic markers for ‘fingerprinting’ and identification of various lavender species and varieties.

Mahmoud also explains that the genome sequence can help researchers improve the plant. For example, many high-yield lavender species actually produce some undesired elements such as camphor. Researchers want to learn how to produce the desired oils without increasing the amounts of undesired ingredients. They can do that through targeted breeding and plant biotechnology, but the first step is to have a complete understanding of the molecular elements that control production of the lavender’s essential oil components.

“The quality of lavender’s essential oils greatly depends on the characteristic scent of the oil, which is determined by certain phytochemicals called monoterpenes,” explains Mahmoud. “Camphor contributes an off-odour, and its presence in the oil lowers quality and hence market value. On the other hand, high levels of linalool and linalyl acetate are desired in lavender oils.”

Liang, who is a Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics, works out of Brock University’s bioinformatics and comparative genomics lab. He says the newly-published research provides specific markers other that researchers can follow.

“They now have access to the lavender genome sequence and from here, they can discover more about the plant,” he says. “Given the economic status of lavender and its applications of essential oils in many industries, the lavender draft genome sequence serves as a significant genetic resource for continued lavender research.”

The research, supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada Research Chair Program and the Investment Agriculture Foundation of B.C., was published this week in Planta, an international journal of plant biology.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



Natural turf field officially opens at UBC Okanagan

Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country (second from left) and UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard (third from left) stand with UBC staff and students at the opening of the Commons Field Wednesday.

Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country (second from left) and UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard (third from left) stand with UBC students and staff at the opening of the Commons Field Wednesday.

Funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada creates enhanced recreation facility

Students at UBC’s Okanagan campus have a new place to stretch their legs between classes.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opened the Commons Field yesterday following a series of upgrades and enhancements. Previously a simple greenspace, the Commons Field now includes lighting, a levelled and newly resurfaced natural turf field, and posts for slacklining.

The enhancements to the Commons Field were made possible by a federal investment of $225,000 from Western Economic Diversification Canada. This funding was allocated under the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

“Congratulations to UBC Okanagan on the renovated Commons Field,” says the Honourable Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development, and minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “Investments like these play a key role in building a stronger, more vibrant community for everyone.”

“Improvements to the Commons Field will be a welcome addition for students, staff, and the wider community,” says Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country. “Whether you are kicking the soccer ball around or participating in other physical activities, this space will be a great place to meet with friends and take a break between classes. The Government of Canada is proud to support infrastructure that helps improve community health and well-being.”

The new Commons Field will play host to intramural sports, informal matches, and minor sports games organized by UBC Campus Recreation.

“The new Commons Field celebrates 150 years and will contribute to creating a healthy future here in the Okanagan. It is both a beautiful green space at the heart of the campus and a much needed outdoor sports and recreation facility for students, staff, and the community,” says UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard. “We are grateful to Western Economic Diversification for this important investment.”

Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, helped open of the Commons Field on Wednesday.

Stephen Fuhr, Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country, helped open the Commons Field on Wednesday.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



THC amounts identical in most cannabis strains, UBC study finds

Cannabis plants

But newly uncovered compounds could explain different pharmacological effects

A rose by any other name is still a rose. The same, it turns out, can be said for cannabis.

Newly published research from UBC’s Okanagan campus has determined that many strains of cannabis have virtually identical levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), despite their unique street names.

“It is estimated that there are several hundred or perhaps thousands of strains of cannabis currently being cultivated,” says Professor Susan Murch, who teaches chemistry at UBC Okanagan. “We wanted to know how different they truly are, given the variety of unique and exotic names.”

Cannabis breeders have historically selected strains to produce THC, CBD or both, she explains. But the growers have had limited access to different types of plants and there are few records of the parentage of different strains.

Susan Murch, professor of chemistry.

Susan Murch, professor of chemistry.

“People have had informal breeding programs for a long time,” Murch says. “In a structured program we would keep track of the lineage, such as where the parent plants came from and their characteristics. With unstructured breeding, which is the current norm, particular plants were picked for some characteristic and then given a new name.”

Until now, the chemical breakdown of many strains has been unknown because of informal breeding.

Elizabeth Mudge, a doctoral student working with Murch and Paula Brown, Canada Research Chair in Phytoanalytics at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, examined the cannabinoid—a class of chemical compounds that include THC and CBD—profiles of 33 strains of cannabis from five licensed producers.

The research shows that most strains, regardless of their origin or name, had the same amount of THC and CBD. They also discovered that breeding highly potent strains of cannabis impacts the genetic diversity within the crop, but not THC or CBD levels.

However, Mudge says that they found differences in a number of previously unknown cannabinoids — and these newly discovered compounds, present in low quantities, could be related to pharmacological effects and serve as a source of new medicines.

“A high abundance compound in a plant, such as THC or CBD, isn’t necessarily responsible for the unique medicinal effects of certain strains,” says Mudge. “Understanding the presence of the low abundance cannabinoids could provide valuable information to the medical cannabis community.”

Currently licensed producers are only required to report THC and CBD values. But Murch says her new research highlights that the important distinguishing chemicals in cannabis strains are not necessarily being analysed and may not be fully identified.

Murch says while patients are using medical cannabis for a variety of reasons, they actually have very little information on how to base their product choice. This research is a first step towards establishing an alternative approach to classifying medical cannabis and providing consumers with better information.

Murch’s research was recently published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

About UBC's Okanagan campus

UBC’s Okanagan campus is an innovative hub for research and learning in the heart of British Columbia’s stunning Okanagan Valley. Ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world, UBC is home to bold thinking and discoveries that make a difference. Established in 2005, the Okanagan campus combines a globally recognized UBC education with a tight-knit and entrepreneurial community that welcomes students and faculty from around the world. For more visit ok.ubc.ca.



College hosts health care training for in-demand profession in Oliver

Okanagan College Media Release

It is not quite a house call, but Oliver residents will find health care training is being offered very close to home.

A special intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled to be held in February that will give students in the South Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in the province.

“The South Okanagan is desperate for health care assistants. That need exists across the province, but there is a significant demand within health-care facilities and homes in this part of the region,” says Lisa Kraft, Associate Dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College.

The College received $89,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Oliver, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Osoyoos, Okanagan Falls and Keremeos.

According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.

“Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Kraft. "Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care."

An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at Southern Okanagan Secondary School, 6140 Gala St. in Oliver. The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment. 

Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-492-4305, ext. 3203 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.

 



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