A Victoria college is trying to become a solution to Vancouver Island’s shortage of medical office professionals.
At the request of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) in the face of critical shortages, Sprott Shaw College has launched a month of special open houses for their programs on medical office and health unit administration.
“Currently we’ve got a high enrolment rate, but in (Greater Victoria) we are really needing more skilled staff,” said Kelcy Snyckers, the college’s admission advisor. “There aren’t enough students going into the field.”
Throughout the month of May, Sprott Shaw will host weekly Open Door Fridays from their downtown campus at 31 Bastion Sq. to show potential students the requirements and benefits of a career in medical administration, as well as tuition financing options. The PHSA and BC Cancer Society will also be part of a special Spotlight Career Day at the Sprott Shaw campus on May 13. A grant of $250 will be offered to anyone who registers for either program.
The need for medical administration professionals presented as desperate several months ago and the PHSA previously asked Sprott Shaw to host the recruitment drive.
“There is a general shortage of medical personnel in the province and in Victoria, whether it’s health care aids, doctors or nurses. This program particularly looks at administrators, who are the interface between nurses and, in many cases, pharmacists,” said college director Anne Wilkes.
The need for people in these positions is particularly desperate for the operations of the BC Cancer Agency, she said. Without a sufficient number of administration staff, their system of checks and balances and patient processing slow down significantly.
Like health care roles that are more hands-on, she added, medical administration still requires a thoughtful human approach. “I don’t think that can be replaced. (Administrators) still have to be well trained.”
Individuals who like to feel valued for helping people, newcomers to Canada intent on working in healthcare, or previous healthcare professionals looking to make a career switch should strongly consider the part-time, seven-month program, Wilkes said.
Misconceptions around earning potential may keep some people from applying, she said. Medical office assistant positions start at $22 an hour, while mid-experience positions average a $60,000 salary. “It’s perhaps one of those careers that people don’t necessarily know about.”
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