contributed

Okanagan health care grad already making impact in field

Graduate, Zaynah Stewart will cross the stage at convocation with job secured

When Zaynah Stewart crosses the stage to accept her Health Care Assistant certificate from Okanagan College on Jan. 12, she will do so with the satisfaction of already having a job firmly secured.

In fact, Stewart had three job offers to choose from after graduating from the six-month Health Care Assistant program, which provides the skills and training for people interested in providing direct client care to seniors and people with disabilities.

“It feels great to already have a position,” said Stewart. “The best part of my job is seeing how happy individuals are when I’m caring for them.”

Stewart, 25, began her career working in administrative positions but never lost sight of her lifelong dream to become a nurse. When she decided to follow her passion and go back to school, she discovered another health care career she’d never considered when she learned about the college’s Health Care Assistant program.

The program instantly appealed to her because of its short duration, which offered a chance to step into the health care field quickly.

RELATED: Okanagan College starts new year with new semester

“There are so many advancement opportunities in the health-care sector, and it’s a quick program to see if the health-care sector is right for you,” said Stewart. “I would recommend the program to anyone interested in a health-care career. It’s provides a strong foundation in how to give good care.”

Stewart is one of 31 graduates from the college’s most recent intakes of the HCA program, which ran in Salmon Arm and Kelowna. She is one of 482 graduates who will earn credentials at the College’s two Winter Convocation ceremonies in Kelowna on Saturday.

The Winter Convocations are the first of the college’s eight ceremonies that take place this year. Students from all four campuses will cross the stage at the Kelowna campus to receive their credentials. The college will confer 61 Bachelor’s degrees, 34 Associate degrees, 271 diplomas and 116 certificates.

The morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and the afternoon ceremony at noon. Both ceremonies will stream live on the college’s Facebook page: facebook.com/okanagancollege.ca

“There is a huge need for health care assistants across the province,” said Angela Godler, chair of the Health Care Assistant program at Okanagan College. “Not only is it an in-demand career, but the program offers opportunity for personal growth through the education process and a rewarding career as a caregiver, developing relationships with your clients while providing direct care.”

Okanagan College offers the Health Care Assistant program at all of its campuses with new programs starting in February in Oliver, February and October in Vernon, May in Salmon Arm and May and August in Kelowna.

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.

The health care assistant program is just one of eight health and social development programs that will be housed in the College’s new $18.9 million Health Sciences Centre, now under construction at the Kelowna campus. The modern Centre will provide technology-enhanced and student-centred labs and classrooms and is planned to open in fall 2020.

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