Conestoga news

January 10, 2024 3:14 PM

Personal Support Worker program prepares students with hands-on learning

People keen on a career with lots of opportunities and passionate about caring for others can consider Conestoga’s Personal Support Worker (PSW) program. 

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Conestoga offers a variety of options for people interested in training to become a PSW.

“We really want people that want to help people, who care about the profession,” said Shelley Edwards-Dick, chair of PSW and Supportive Care. “If they have that, this could be the career for them.”

A personal support worker provides supportive person-centered care across the lifespan to individuals and families at various levels of health and well-being in a variety of care environments, including long-term, community and hospital. Recent reports project Ontario needs 33,000 nurses and PSWs by 2028 to address current shortages and keep pace with an aging population and demand for health services.

Conestoga offers a variety of options for people interested in training to become a PSW. The college’s one-year certificate program is available full time, part time and fast delivery on an accelerated 21-week schedule.

Online learning offered in the regular stream is combined with in-person labs and clinical placements as experiential learning is central to Conestoga’s program and integrated throughout to support student application of knowledge, skills and judgment.

The program is offered at multiple sites, including the new Milton - Steeles Avenue location when it opens in May as home to the Conestoga Centre of Excellence in Healthcare Education.

In the labs, students practise learning through simulations where they go through a variety of scenarios. Clinical placements give them the chance to work in long-term care and retirement-living environments where they can gain real-life experience to build knowledge and confidence working with older clients and care teams.

The placements offer “lots of opportunity for learning and growth” and, quite often, a permanent job. “They often stay,” Edwards-Dick said. “It is a good opportunity for the employer and the student.”

Students graduate with a certificate, which is needed to work in long-term care. But senior care is only one possibility and PSWs can work in a variety of settings, including home care, hospital and day programs. The many fields employing PSWs combined with the shortage of workers in the province and beyond means graduates will always be able to find work.

“There’s many jobs, there’s many different options,” Edwards-Dick said.

Thanks to the generous support of the Cowan Foundation, PSW students are eligible to receive an entrance award of $500, free uniform, and free first aid and CPR certification.

People interested in learning more about the program can join virtual conversations held every Tuesday (8 - 9 a.m.) and Wednesday (12 - 1 p.m.).

Conestoga’s School of Health & Life Sciences offers a range of credentials to assist in the goal of becoming a health-care professional. From pre-health programs through to certificates, diplomas, graduate certificates and degrees, the School of Health & Life Sciences delivers the most up-to-date training provided by expert faculty and staff in state-of-the-art facilities.