This disbursement is the largest-ever from the Northern Medical Programs Trust (NMPT), and partnership involving UNBC and 30 local governments from around northern BC. The majority of the funds provide financial assistance to students who are pursing clinical experiences in northern and rural communities as part of their education. Awards to 370 students have been provided since the NMPT started providing funding in 2006.
“Medical students in the Northern Medical Program have a unique opportunity to train in a setting that is as close to true-life practice as is possible,” said Dr. Justin Frey, a UNBC and NMP graduate, practising in Vanderhoof. “The NMPT removes some of the stress associated with paying for education, as well as living expenses, allowing many of these well-rounded students to train while raising families. Place together, the NMPT and NMP are allowing our area to produce top-quality physicians trained in the north, for the north.”
To date, of the Northern Medical Program graduates who have completed their residencies, about two-thirds are working in northern communities.
The Trust held its annual general meeting on May 8 in Fort St. John, in conjunction with the North Central Local Government Association convention. In addition to approving the disbursement for 2014 – 2015, the Trust members elected Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen as NMPT President. He replaces Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, who served one year as NMPT President. Mackenzie Mayor Stephanie Killam is the new NMPT Vice-President.
The Trust directors also approved a plan to conduct a review of the Trust and its disbursement model.
“It’s a privilege to be chairing the Northern Medical Programs Trust in the same year that the Northern Medical Program turns 10 years old, and UNBC itself celebrates its 25th anniversary,” said Thiessen. “These occasions provide a perfect opportunity to both review and renew the Trust to ensure that it can be as effective as possible at encouraging future healthcare practitioners to choose northern communities after they graduate.”
The NMPT is one of the most popular designations for UNBC donations. Over the last decade, more than 1,350 donors have contributed to the Trust and the endowment is currently valued at $9 million.