Ten new Canadians, all of whom received health care professional training in their native lands, became pioneers on August 15 as they took part in a pinning ceremony at Conestoga College, to mark completion of their studies in an innovative, accelerated Practical Nursing program designed to launch them on health care careers in Ontario.
The program is titled Fast-Track Practical Nursing. It is a pilot project funded by Ontarios Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration through the Waterloo-Wellington Training and Adjustment Board (WWTAB). The primary use of the $213,000 grant was for the fast-track program, but a portion is also being used to research the mix of health-care workers needed over the next 5-10 years in Waterloo Region and Wellington County.
Receiving their pins were: William Alvarez (originally from Colombia), Alfonso Bendana (Nicaragua), Lileana Bush (Mexico), Graciela Cerquera (Colombia), Nancy Darling (The Philippines), Ying Lu (China), Yanbin Ma (China), Biljana Maric (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Hong Ren (China) and Guillermo Sanchez (Cuba).
Bringing congratulations on behalf of Hon. Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, was his parliamentary assistant, Linda Jeffrey (MPP, Brampton-Springdale). Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities John Milloy also offered the students congratulations and best wishes.
Conestoga, with its excellent reputation in both health care and language skills education, developed and delivered the program. Conestoga modified its two-year Practical Nursing program and used the resources of the Conestoga Language Institute to create this model academic initiative, which may well be the template for other, similar initiatives locally and across Ontario.
Participating students had completed professional health care training in their countries of origin. In 13 months at Conestoga, they completed the modified fast-track program, including all required clinical placements. As part of their studies, they received specialized, enhanced English-language skills development specific to health care careers. The accelerated format recognized that these students had already acquired skills and experience in areas such as anatomy, physiology and pathology.
Now, these successful individuals will prepare to write their provincial practical nursing certification exams in September.
Contact: Carol Simpson, Waterloo-Wellington Training and Adjustment Board, 519- 622-7122; Marlene Raasok, Conestoga College, 519-748-5220, ext. 3435