Sonography training program starts in northern BC
February 20, 2019
PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Eight College of New Caledonia students have started taking classes in the first sonography program available outside the Lower Mainland. The Northern Diagnostic Medical Sonography program opened at CNC’s Prince George campus on Jan. 7. It is one of only two publicly funded sonography programs in British Columbia.
Photo above: College of New Caledonia instructor Sheldon Bailey with a student and Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, in the College of New Caledonia sonography program.
“A sonography program at CNC will help tackle waitlists, while providing the opportunity for northern graduates to succeed and thrive closer to home,” Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, told the Prince George Citizen.
Diagnostic medical sonographers play a critical role by providing key information leading to earlier diagnosis and support ongoing patient management using ultrasound technology.
“Too many people are on lengthy waitlists for critical medical care, such as ultrasounds,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We’re working to increase the number of sonography graduates throughout the province, with more spaces at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, as well as the first sonography program outside the Lower Mainland, so more people can get the care they need.”
At CNC, sonography students get dual training in both cardiac ultrasound and general ultrasound, which looks at the abdomen, pelvis and obstetrics.
“Here in the North, there is a great need for sonographers trained in both general and cardiac ultrasound,” said Glenda Vardy Dell, CNC dean of the school of health sciences. “CNC students are in a unique position, because they will be equipped to offer dual skill sets to the hospital or clinic they work in.”
CNC’s sonography lab is equipped with eight state-of-the-art ultrasound machines and ultrasound simulators. The high-fidelity simulators use augmented reality to facilitate engaging and intuitive learning in cardiac, lung, abdominal and obstetrics/gynecology ultrasound.
“CNC students are trained on the newest technology available in the field of sonography,” added Vardy Dell.
Admission preference was given to northern B.C. candidates, to address regional demand by encouraging students who are from the North to study and continue to work in the area. Of the eight students in the first cohort of the program, seven are from northern B.C.
“We are very pleased to see the start of this important addition to health care education opportunities in the North,” said Dr. Shyr Chui, Northern Health medical lead, diagnostic imaging.
“CNC’s sonography program has been a remarkable experience so far,” said Sara Wiggins, a student in the CNC’s first cohort. “Using ultrasound machines to learn about the human body is really exciting.”
The Province is providing $640,000 in annual funding – $400,000 for one-time startup costs and capital funding of $1.5 million for equipment and renovations.
The number of students enrolled in the program’s second cohort is scheduled to increase to 16 during the next intake.
In 2018, B.C. had about 740 sonographers and there are an estimate 370 job openings between 2018 and 2028.
The median wage rate for sonographers is $37.11 per hour and the top 10 per cent earn $48.56 per hour.