PEI

Holland College health-care graduates keen to help fill a growing need on P.E.I.

Holland College health-care graduates are ready to join the workforce and give exhausted workers a break.

'I won't for sure be sitting at home for months waiting for a job.'

Young smiling woman wearing graduation gown and holding diploma stands in front of brick building.
Shedline Israel, who graduated from the resident care program at Holland College on June 23, 2022, says she is grateful for her job prospects. (Tharsha Ravichakaravarthy/CBC)

Studying during the pandemic was not easy, but Shedline Israel says she persevered and believes her hard work will pay off.

Israel graduated from the resident care worker program at Holland College in Charlottetown last week and given the current health-care staffing shortages on the Island, she said her job prospects look good.

"Right now, because of COVID, there's been less employees in the health field," she said.

"I think that this year has been a great year for us to graduate because there's homes and hospitals and other places looking for resident care workers."

Israel is right about that.

In January, the province's department of health made a plea for substitute teachers to fill in temporarily as resident care workers, citing a "critical staffing shortage" at private nursing homes facing outbreaks of COVID-19.

And in April, P.E.I. Health Minister Ernie Hudson announced a new program to cover tuition for Canadians wanting to train on P.E.I. to become resident care workers. 

Former Island students training to become resident care workers practise the skills needed to transfer a patient out of a wheelchair. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Kaitlyn Greyson also graduated from Holland College last week. She completed the practical nursing program and has already accepted a full-time position at Prince Edward Home in Charlottetown.

Welcome relief for health-care workers

The resident care worker and practical nursing programs at Holland College both require students to do on-the-job training.

Greyson said that experience gave her first-hand knowledge of the toll the COVID-19 pandemic and staff shortages have taken on health-care workers.

"Even as a student, seeing how needed and how burned out all these nurses are, " said Greyson.

"It's great to actually be graduated and be able to help them and give all the ones that have been working their butts off these years a break."

Sunny day on grassy college campus with graduates in gowns entering a brick building that says MacMillan Centre.
Graduates enter MacMillan Centre at Holland College in Charlottetown on June 23, 2022. (Tharsha Ravichakaravarthy/CBC)

In May, health-care staffing needs were so dire, that the union representing registered care workers and licenced practical nurses said some members were being denied vacations despite their need for a break. 

Trevor Cudmore, an administrator with the long-term care program at Health P.E.I., said new health-care graduates are wanted and needed.

"New grads provide new energy, they provide relief, and also provide an ability for our workforce to continue to adapt," he said.

Although Israel completed her studies before the free tuition incentive program was announced, she said she is grateful for her job prospects and believes the money she spent on her education was a good investment. 

"It feels great because I know I won't for sure be sitting at home for months waiting for a job or wondering if I'm ever going to work in the field that I just spent money and graduated in."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tharsha Ravichakaravarthy joined CBC Prince Edward Island in June 2022. She has experience working with the Science and Climate Unit and interning with The Fifth Estate. She completed her undergraduate degree in global health and statistics at the University of Toronto and previously worked as a researcher with Mount Sinai Hospital, Western University, and the London Health Sciences Centre. You can reach her at Tharsha.Ravichakaravarthy@cbc.ca.

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