Spotlight on Health Care Assistant Jobs

By Maureen Latta

Donna Shaw, Heath Care Assistant

If you like caring for others and want a career where employment demand is high, consider becoming a Health Care Assistant.

Health Care Assistant workers are in steady demand in the Powell River region. In fact, the need for qualified workers has led Vancouver Island University’s Powell River campus to offer the Health Care Assistant Certificate program annually instead of every two years. Intake for 2014 is in late September.

The Health Care Assistant Certificate program prepares students to work mainly with seniors in complex care facilities, extended care units, home support agencies, and residential settings. To find out more about this profession from someone who has been working in the field for nearly 30 years, read the Career Sense interview with Donna Shaw.

VIU Administrative Coordinator Alison Turley says anyone interested in applying for the full-time, six-month program should start the application process now to gain a better chance of claiming one of the 16 spaces opening up in the fall.

“There’s always a wait list so we say the sooner the better because September intake fills up quickly,” says Turley.

Potential applicants should check the VIU website for admission requirements as soon as possible. In addition, applicants will need to provide proof of Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training and up-to-date immunizations by the first day of classes. WHMIS training can be taken through VIU’s Professional Development and Training.

As part of the Health Care Assistant program, students gain practical experience in a variety of settings, such as multi-level care, complex care, home support, and assisted living. Students are required to get their FoodSafe Level I certificate and Standard First Aid certificate prior to the first practice experience.

Turley says Vancouver Coastal Health typically hires program graduates for casual positions. “Anyone who is seriously interesting in finding employment finds a job within weeks of finishing the program,” she says.

Leonard Wegner, Manager at Olive Devaud Residence and Evergreen Extended Care, says about 10-15 Health Care Assistant workers are hired each year at the two facilities. All of the positions are casual. While it might take some people several years to get permanent work, others can get it fairly quickly. “It depends on how much they’re willing to work,” Wegner says. For those who want a permanent position, the average length of time is about three to four years, Wegner estimates.

Tuition for the certificate program, including student fees, is $2,570. Financial aid may be available. To find out more, you can book an appointment with a Career Link counsellor today by calling 604-485-7958.

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