A new online course is being offered by Northwestern Polytechnic in Grande Prairie. The course is open for enrolment and the first one will begin April 3. All rural health-care professionals who take the course will have the fees paid for by the Alberta government.

MLA Tanya Fir, parliamentary secretary for Status of Women, said, “We know that in many rural and remote areas of Alberta survivors of sexual violence may have to travel large distances to access a sexual assault evidence kit.”

Often, survivors choose not to travel to have evidence collected if their local hospital doesn’t have health-care providers who are trained or comfortable in performing evidence collection.

“Every person who has been sexually assaulted deserves access to care and forensic evidence collection regardless of where they live,” stated Fir. “As part of Alberta’s $1-million investment in Status of Women, we have provided funding for Northwestern Polytechnic in Grande Prairie to develop an online course to train our hardworking rural health-care providers to perform forensic collection. The course focuses on the technical and emotional skills required to administer a safe exam.”

The course is online so any health-care professional across the province can access it. Taking about 10-12 hours to complete, the self-study course allows those enrolled flexibility in completing the modules. Although voluntary, Fir wants to encourage all health-care providers in rural settings to take the training.

It’s about “enhancing the existing services to support survivors,” said Fir. “By making this course available to as many rural health-care providers as possible, this enables those survivors to get the support they deserve and need locally in a timely, compassionate manner.”

Status of Women will be working with AHS to ensure rural health-care providers are aware of the new course and that the fees will be paid by the government.

“There are many health-care providers throughout the province who already have this training. The purpose of this is to make it available to that many more across the province, particularly in rural areas.”

By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 21, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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