The Northern Medical Programs Trust has raised $1.6 million in Prince George to support medical students attending UNBC, co-chairman Tim Curry told city council Monday, however more is needed.
The Trust’s objective is to raise $6 million throughout northern B.C. including $2 million in Prince George so the interest can be used to help offset medical students’ expenses, Curry said. So far the trust has raised $3.4 million.
“Our goal is to retain 70 per cent of these students in the north,” Curry said.
Curry said if the students are supported, they will have less of a loan burden coming out of school and may feel less pressure to move to a larger centre.
“The Trust has already provided income to some students,” he added.
WIth 100 students expected to be enrolled in the program by 2008, it will ease the worry about a retiring generation of baby-boomer doctors, Curry said.
In addition to bringing more general practitioners to the north, Curry said, the program may encourage students to specialize and then return to the community to practice.
Prince George Regional Hospital becoming a teaching hospital will help Northern Health recruit and retain doctors from other regions.
The Trust has received strong support from the community and business, he said. Sponsors include natural resource companies, banks, transportation companies and other services.
Contributions from the top five sponsors have ranged from $150,000 to $500,000.
The Trust is now looking for additional support from the community, he said.
Approximately 25,000 brochures were sent out in February utility bills, asking each household to pledge $1 a week for three years or $156 in total, Curry said.
If 10 per cent of people respond, it will be enough to reach the $2 million goal for Prince George.
In addition, they continue to hold fundraising events in the region, Curry said.