Health-care training in Vernon can kick-start new careers

Okanagan College Health Care Assistant program plans extra intake in February

Health-care careers are calling, and Vernon residents considering change in the new year can dial in their options in early 2019.

An extra intake of Okanagan College’s Health Care Assistant program is scheduled for February, giving students in the North Okanagan direct access to training for one of the most in-demand positions in B.C.

“Now is a great time to become a health care assistant. The need for health care assistants within the Interior Health region is growing. There are many opportunities for individuals who have this training and one can choose to work in a team environment in long-term care or one-on-one with clients in home support. It is a great career choice for those who enjoy working closely with others, and those who like making a positive impact on the lives of others,” says Shalan Hundal, health care assistant recruitment and marketing project lead with Interior Health.

The HCA program is also being offered as a dual credit opportunity with School District 22.

According to WorkBC, health care assistants have been identified as a priority occupation for the B.C. Ministry of Health. Average employment growth rates in this field are forecasted at 13 per cent to 2022, with no sign of slowing down. This demand is anticipated to increase even more after the Government of B.C. announced funding to increase staffing levels in residential care homes for seniors, which aims to fund more than 900 health care assistants by 2021.

“We’re hearing from our industry partners that employers in the Okanagan are desperate for health care assistants. Students will be making a living wage right out of school, in a profession that offers a variety of shifts, making it easy to find work that best fits their lives,” says Lisa Kraft, associate dean of Science Technology and Health for Okanagan College. “Most importantly, health care assistants find their work extremely rewarding. Graduates often tell us how much they appreciate the opportunity to have a significant impact on the quality of life for people in care.”

The College received $66,000 in one-time funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to support delivery of the program in Vernon, which will also enhance access for residents of nearby Armstrong, Enderby, Salmon Arm and Sicamous.

Related: Okanagan College receives caregiver funding

An information night for people to learn more about the Health Care Assistant program and field will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6 p.m. in Room D343 of the Vernon campus, 7000 College Way. The six-month intensive program runs for 26 weeks starting on Feb. 4, 2019, and will feature four months of classroom instruction and two months of hands-on practicum for students to learn within the health-care environment.

Applications can be submitted online. For information, call 250-545-7291, ext. 2309 or visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/hca.


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