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Innisfail begins new health care aide program

First-ever course in town fills up months in advance
MVT Health care aid class
Classes have been set up and started at the office of the Henday Association for Lifelong Learning inside the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre for the new Health Care Aide certificate program. Photo by Donna Arnold

INNISFAIL – It took just less than two months for the new Health Care Aide certificate program to be a complete sell out.

The first-ever program of its kind in Innisfail from Campus Alberta Central (CAC) opened its doors at the office of the Henday Association for Lifelong Learning inside the Innisfail Library/Learning Centre for 16 eager students on Oct. 7.

The CAC is an agreement between Red Deer and Olds colleges to bring access to academic programming to rural areas of Central Alberta instead of citizens having to go to those colleges.

The new full-time Health Care Aide certificate program for Innisfail, which is costing each student about $8,700 in tuition, will see eight months of training and instruction, an increase from the past six-month program that was previously offered elsewhere. The program, which will include a practicum, will last until April.

Donna Arnold, executive director of the Henday association, said the 16 students, the maximum allowed for the program, are being split up into two classes. The program was announced publicly for the first time at the end of April and full registration was complete two months later.

“They did say at the end of June that we had more than two classes, so whether it was decided to put them somewhere else into another community I am not really sure but more than 16 did apply,” said Arnold. “That was really good, and it didn’t take them that long. The application process could have been until September 2 and we already had them at the end of June.”

Arnold said classes have now been equipped with beds and labs are now fully running for the new students.

She said labs run with a Red Deer Polytechnic instructor on Tuesdays and Thursdays until the end of February when students go into practicum where they work outside in hospitals, seniors’ residences, or elsewhere. Arnold said outside of Tuesdays and Thursday, the rest of instruction is carried out online, also with a Red Deer Polytechnic instructor.

She added that a big bonus for the students is that all are either from Innisfail or the surrounding area, which makes the location at the library/learning centre convenient.

“It’s a real bonus that people don’t have to travel. A lot of people were taking it through Bow Valley College or wherever but this way they can do it right in their community, or really close if they come from just outside the community,” said Arnold. “Having it local and being able to have a course like this I think is a real benefit and we’re really hoping that the practicums can be done in the community as well.

“That would be extra help in possibly finding jobs because we know that is a real shortage of health care aids now, and it would be really good if these folks could actually get jobs in Innisfail,” she added.

Arnold said when students graduate, they will be looking for jobs in their new chosen field, where they will be earning at least $21 to $25 an hour with Alberta Health Services, or even higher with private operators.


Johnnie Bachusky

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