SUDBURY -- College Boréal’s Kapuskasing campus has accepted 18 students into its new accelerated training program for personal support workers.

Launched at the start of the January 2021 semester, the pilot project aims to address the shortage of professional PSWs in the area. The program, offered in partnership with Sensenbrenner Hospital and in collaboration with area health care organizations, is the first of its kind at Collège Boréal.

The students registered in this program are sponsored by an institution. Sensenbrenner Hospital has sponsored 17 students, while North Centennial Manor has sponsored one. The sponsors pay the students’ tuition fees and course manuals, totalling more than $4,000.

“The PSW program that Collège Boréal and Sensenbrenner Hospital are offering us is incredible," student Cassie Deslauriers said in a news release Monday.

"They have given me the opportunity to improve my quality of life and to improve lives in the community at the same time. I’m thankful to live in a community that takes care of its people.”

Twelve-week program

Whereas the regular PSW training program usually requires 28 weeks, the pilot project aims to train PSWs in 12 weeks.

"Because of the shortage of workers in this field, hospitals, long-term care centres and other healthcare institutions regularly hire non-qualified staff as assistants to PSWs," Boréal said in the release. "The program’s 18 students have been hired to fill the need for workers and to support patient care, while also completing their training with a combination of courses in theory and practice."

The students, divided into two groups, have classes three days a week and spend two days a week working as assistants to PSWs in order to gain practical experience. The theory courses are offered through Zoom and the laboratory practices course is offered on campus.

To ensure their success, students also receive assistance from the learning support team and additional training in computer skills, time management and stress management.

“Now more than ever, we need health care workers for essential work in the health care sector," Brian Vaillancourt, Boréal's vice-president of business development, said in the release.

"That is why Collège Boréal and its partners are working together to find innovative solutions to fill the need for specialized workers.”

Increased capacity

“This accelerated program will allow us to increase our community capacity by training several personal support workers who will be able to support our health care partners as of April," said Jessica Allarie, chief human resources officer, Sensenbrenner Hospital.

"Partnering with Boréal has been instrumental in the success of this innovative program and we look forward to collaborating on other adapted programs to meet the needs of our community.”

Established in 1995, Collège Boréal is a French-language post-secondary training and learning institution dedicated to the development and growth of communities throughout Ontario.

To find out more about Collège Boréal’s programs and services, visit the school's website.