August 29, 2022 | News

Near North District School Board’s personal support worker students take gentle persuasive approach training in the living classroom at Belvedere Heights

By David Briggs, reprinted from Bay Today

The class of 2022 all found jobs and are eager for their new careers

It’s graduation month for the first personal support worker (PSW) program launched by the Near North District School Board (NNDSB). The program began in February and had 24 students enrolled. This month, all 24 graduated, and all of them have found jobs in the area.

Lisa Spencer, the NNDSB’s Secondary Program Coordinator, noted “the goal of the program was to support community needs, and to contribute to the development of PSWs ready to start a career in healthcare.”

Now those community needs are beginning to be filled “with confident and proud PSWs,” who are ready to begin their careers on the frontline of health care. Yes, there is still a large need to fill, but every new set of hands will be an asset to the community. Plus, the program continues, as plans are underway to run it in Parry Sound and Mattawa in September, and “it is the board’s intention” to also run the PSW program in North Bay and West Nipissing.

The program offers training in what the NNDSB refers to as “living classroom settings.” What this means is that on top of learning in the classroom, the students receive on-site training, working at hospitals and long-term care homes. They receive hand on experience with patients and learn from the veteran staff as well.

The intense training “aligns with every other program in the province,” Spencer explained, “and students have the experience and credentials of every other PSW in Ontario” upon graduating. And the living classroom “offers what many believe is an advantage in training,” Spencer said, offering the “ability to learn on the floor,” while gaining from the experience of working PSWs and nurses.

Nicole Robinson is an instructor in Parry Sound, and she’s a big fan of the program overall. “Hands down, this is the best way to learn,” she said. Robinson began her career as a PSW and is now a registered nurse at Belvedere Heights, so she understands what the students can expect.

“The staff embrace my students and go the extra mile for them,” she noted. “The have been so welcoming because they could be their next co-workers.”

For more information on the upcoming PSW programs, visit the PSW page of the NNDSB’s website.