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Increased need seen for PSWs

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Fanshawe College in Simcoe has seen an increase in the need for personal support workers since the beginning of the pandemic.

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Donna Gates, associate dean at the college, said the pandemic has shone a spotlight on a shortage of PSWs.

“The pandemic has put extra pressure on the program — and it was a program that was already under pressure before the pandemic hit,” she said in a phone interview this week. “We already had a shortage and this has really magnified that.”

Gates noted that Fanshawe’s most recent PSW program was filled almost entirely by students who had their tuition covered by grants and bursaries.

“There are opportunities to take the PSW or similar programs either for free or to have tuition reimbursed,” she said, adding that students will have “guaranteed employment at the end.”

Although a bursary fund is not available for the January intake of students, other incentives are available, said Gates.

Due to the pandemic, a portion of courses are taught online. Labs, however, are in person on campus to give students hands-on experience.

“One of our employers said to our co-ordinator the other day, ‘These students are so well trained,’ said Gates.

“And they did all of their theory online. They’re still learning what they need to know to be able to apply it in the field.”

Gates expressed admiration for past students who are working during the pandemic.

“We love seeing them out in the community making a difference in peoples’ lives,” she said. “And to those who are thinking of [taking the program], there are few careers that are more satisfying than a career in PSW. You can be a treasure in someone’s life.”

The PSW program consists of two four–month semesters, with intakes in September and January. Each class has a maximum of 30 students.

A few openings are available for January.

For more information, call the college at 519-426-8260.

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