A new class at St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School is giving students an opportunity to explore a number of health care professions both in and outside the classroom. The course is a complement to the well-established Health & Wellness Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program which allows students to focus their studies in a career-specific sector.
The Grade 11 Exploring Health Care class was introduced to fill the interest gap at the school and covers professions and topics relating to personal support workers, nurses, Alzheimer's/dementia, CPR and anatomy/physiology.
To help provide some insight to the material covered, guest speakers are invited throughout the semester to share their first-hand knowledge and perhaps spark interest in their profession.
For students Jennifer Da Cunha, Angelika Corpuz and Michaela Merla the class seemed like a good way to test the waters and see if health care was the right fit for them.
So far, they’re enjoying the variety the course has to offer and taking home tips, like infection control, that are helpful regardless of whether they choose to pursue the industry or not.
“It’s definitely interesting,” said Corpuz. “Every day is different, so you’re never bored.”
In addition to classroom learning, students are required to complete a 1-month co-op at St. Peter's Residence at Chedoke, a long-term care facility, where they will work alongside professionals in carrying out daily work assignments.
To prepare for their placement, students practiced fundamental job tasks to ensure a smooth transition from classroom to work setting.
“It’s learning a lot of proper techniques and procedures,” said Merla.
“There’s no cutting corners.”
Especially in health care, there can’t be, said Teacher Alexis Saranko.
Even something as basic as bed making has a check list of steps to guarantee sanitation and optimal patient comfort.
Some of these specifics Saranko stressed included remembering to never shake the bed sheets to minimize the spread of germs, smoothing out any wrinkles on the bed to lessen irritation from a patient’s ulcers and disposing soiled linens and worker gloves in the proper containers to avoid contamination.
“It’s a very hands-on course,” said Saranko, noting the class is split equally between textbook and practical learning.
But the most important component to the course is one Saranko can’t teach – passion.
Looking at a nurse or a personal support worker, you’re working every day with patients and it’s a very personal job, she said.
“You have to have a passion for it because I can’t teach empathy or patience.”
“You have to love it.”