College addressing shortage
Kirk Penton - Oct 19, 2018 - Biz Releases

Photo: ZhaoYang Zhong
(L to R): First College president Timothy Yang, KCR’s Kathy Crocker, Kelowna city councillor Maxine DeHart, Monashee Manufacturing’s Lei Zhang and Tara Lee Calhoun celebrate on Thursday.

B.C. needs nearly 3,000 health-care aides by 2023, so a local college with campuses in the Central Okanagan is doing what it can to produce as many as possible.

First College, which is based in West Kelowna, is expanding to downtown Kelowna in January with a campus on St. Paul Street. Three new health-care assistant diploma program classes will begin in early January to coincide with the opening.

“We’re at about a 95 per cent success rate where they’re getting (job) offers before they’ve even finished (the course),” First College marketing co-ordinator Megann Robb said. “So make sure you’re getting your appropriate designations and you’ve got a job.”

Thursday was Healthcare Aide Day in B.C., so First College threw a party on Thursday night at Kelowna’s Ramada Hotel. It invited health-care workers from around the region, including alumni, to celebrate those who are on the front lines. Kelowna city councillor Maxine DeHart was also on hand.

“It’s important to appreciate the people that are already in this career field,” Robb said, “and it’s also important to let others know that this is a possibility for not just a job, but a career.”

The BC Care Providers Association released a report in June called Situation Critical. It stated the provincial government will need to hire 2,800 full-time health-care aides within the next five years “to maintain or improve the level of seniors care” across B.C.

Robb said the classes at First College are small, allowing students to develop strong relationships with their instructors. It also creates a family-like atmosphere among the students, who end up providing support for each other in their quest for diplomas. Instructors can also guide students into their first jobs.

“We have a wonderful faculty at First College,” Robb said. “A lot of our faculty, not only are they all registered nurses, but they also work in the health sector on the side. So not only are they teaching at our college, but they are also at their place of employment providing nursing services.

“So from their employers they’ll get a lot of questions like, ‘How there is such a huge deficit? Can you refer anyone to us? Is there anyone you know that would be interested in this career path?’ It is pretty dire.”

More information on First College and its health-care aide program can be found on its website.

“We have three different schedules that are flexible for our students’ needs,” Robb said. “A lot of our students do work part-time on top of this or they’re changing career paths, so they’re able to juggle family life as well as school life.”

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