Rural Health-Care Training Reaches Record High

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Nearly 450 training spaces for front-line health-care professionals are being offered in rural communities this year, a greater volume of rural health training than ever before and more than double the training spaces offered a decade ago, Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Advanced Education and Literacy Minister Diane McGifford said today.

"We know the best strategy to increase the number of health professionals working in rural communities is to train them in rural communities," Oswald said. "The volume of rural health-care training has increased significantly in recent years and will lead to more front-line health workers in the areas they're needed most."

The provincial government has invested in delivering rotating training programs to communities across Manitoba and building on training offered by or in partnership with Assiniboine Community College, Brandon University, University College of the North and Red River College.

Training for front-line health workers is being offered in a number of Manitoba communities:

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· Assiniboine Community College will be offering the rural rotating licensed practical nurse (LPN) program in Steinbach beginning in October 2008 and in Morden/Winkler starting in January 2009. The program runs 16 months and generally accommodates 25 students. In addition to academic courses, students develop clinical nursing skills that qualify them to work in a variety of health-care settings.

· Red River College is offering an intensive 12-month paramedic course in The Pas, Dauphin, Winnipeg and Souris this year. The three northern and rural sites operate on a rotating basis with eight students at each site. One group of 16 students will complete the program in Winnipeg. The advanced-level training prepares students to assist other care providers in primary health-care settings.

· Red River College will offer the rotating LPN to registered nurse (RN) program in Portage la Prairie, Morden/Winkler, Gimli and Neepawa in 2009-10. The 18-month nursing education program allows LPNs to continue their education closer to home.

On-campus nursing programs are offered at Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College each year. The ministers noted that 26 students in this year's largest-ever first-year faculty of medicine class are from rural communities, the highest number of enrolled rural students on record.

"Training more rural students is the key to building a stronger rural health-care workforce," McGifford said. "Since taking office, we have more than doubled funding for rural health training and we are committed to building on those investments."

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