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Saskatchewan's first ultrasound technologist program launches

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The first provincial Diagnostic Medical Sonography, also known as ultrasound, Advanced Diploma program has been launched in Yorkton.

Through Suncrest College, the program will teach students how to conduct ultrasound examinations, focusing on areas such as obstetrics and gynecology, abdomen and superficial structures, along with vascular sonographic studies.

“This is what we would consider a high-demand program. Prior to today, students would have to leave the province of Saskatchewan to attain this education,” Suncrest College’s President and CEO Alison Dubreuil said at the launching of the program.

“We’re very pleased to offer this here in the province of Saskatchewan and for students to be able to learn locally. We know that there’s higher aptitude upon graduation to secure employment here in Saskatchewan.”

The 28-month advanced diploma program is a joint program with Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg, and will include theoretical and clinical training.

The Ministries of Advanced Education and Immigration and Career Training will provide funding to support the program, and the Health Foundation of East Central Saskatchewan has offered to raise $300,000 for equipment costs.

Other community donors will support the remaining capital costs.

For years, Yorkton’s Health Foundation has been working towards increasing the number of ultrasound technologists available in the area, according to executive director Ross Fisher.

“One of our goals is to always try and address gaps that we see in health care service,” he said. “If people have to travel out for service to access specialty programs somewhere else in the province, we work with the health care system to try and see if we can put those services in place locally.”

“This will be one of those, we have been short of ultrasound technicians in the past, but we’re certainly expecting that we’ll hire some of the graduates that come out of the class, that would be our goal, and we expect other hospitals in Saskatchewan will hire the other graduates that come out of the class,” Fischer added.

The program was launched as part of Saskatchewan’s Health Human Resources Action Plan, which aims to recruit, train, incentivise and retain health care workers.

“It’s well known that there’s a lot of need for different expertise and different medical professions throughout the province,” Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit told CTV News.

“Our Health Human Resources Action Plan is really focusing on where those are needed and getting that training in place is one of the parts in that plan. It’s very hard to get trained ultrasound technicians here and to train them, not only in Saskatchewan, but right here in Yorkton.”

MLA for Melville-Saltcoats Warren Kaeding added that the program will keep youth in the province as well.

“The basis of this program is to have training here in Saskatchewan,” Kaeding said.

“Currently, sonography is only offered outside of the province and whenever you lose a young person outside of the province there’s no guarantee that they’re coming back. By offering this course locally, we’re certainly hoping that we’ll be able to retain a lot more of those trained individuals here certainly in this area, as well as in the province.”

There are six spots available in the program with plans to begin as soon as August 2024.

The deadline for applicants is May 15.

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