Vancouver Island's first-ever diagnostic medical sonography (DMS) program is coming to Camosun College, and it's expected to reduce wait times for both patients and students on the island.

DMS machines allow health care professionals to examine a person's internal anatomy, including organs, tissues, blood flow and unborn babies. Professionals who operate the machines, called diagnostic medical sonographers, are in high-demand across B.C.

“Our government is committed to improving the health care services people count on, and by adding more sonography graduates throughout the province, we’re working to ensure people can get the care they need in a timely fashion,” said Minister of Health Adrian Dix in a news release Thursday.

"More sonography graduates mean more sonographers who are workforce-ready and more access to the services that people need to thrive."

The post-secondary program is a first of its kind for Vancouver Island, and will open to 16 students starting in May 2020 at Camosun College's Interurban campus. The next class, in 2021, will see the number of students double to 32 for the two-year program.

Previously, sonography programs were only offered at BCIT's Burnaby campus.

"Camosun College is continuing to offer programs that are responsive, relevant and what local communities need," said Sherri Bell, president of Camosun College. "Previously, students who wanted to become sonographers had to leave Vancouver Island for their education. Soon, they will be able to study close to home."

To fund the program, the provincial government provided $4 million in capital funding for equipment, lab and classroom space. To help launch the program, the province plans to invest an additional $1.4 million.

"This new program will help improve patient care on Vancouver Island," said Leah Hollins, board chair for Island Health.

"Ultrasound is in high demand, and training sonographers in our community means we’ll have more skilled professionals in the workforce, giving patients more timely access to care when and where they need it."