Georgian Personal Support Worker students begin their placements

Shauna Gadd is one of 24 Personal Support Worker (PSW) students who headed out on paid-work placements this August. Gadd took advantage of the free accelerated program offered at Georgian’s Owen Sound Campus this spring.

The six-month accelerated program, announced by the provincial government back in February, provided funding to cover tuition and compulsory ancillary fees and allowed students to fulfill program requirements more quickly by increasing the number of study hours per week.

Gadd, a parent of two boys, worked as a Developmental Services Worker for many years but found it increasingly challenging to balance shift work with family responsibilities. She found work as a medical support clerk that offered more consistent hours but missed helping people and wanted to go back to school.

“I’ve always had a passion for the health-care field and it was a dream of mine to further my education,” said Gadd. “At the beginning of every year I would make a to-do list and going back to school was always at the top of my list. This year I turned 40 and decided to make furthering my education in health care my number one positive change.”

Gadd saw there was a shortage of PSWs and knew she could help serve her community of Walkerton by joining this workforce and fulfilling a high demand.

“Like everyone else in the world, I read the news and stories about the fears, shortages of frontline workers, isolation and people needing help,” explained Gadd. “It was during this time that I realized how ready I was to jump in feet first. I want to be part of the solution and help make a difference.”

Gadd is doing her placement with Lee Manor in Owen Sound and has already had several shifts and is enjoying the facility and their staff.

“The staff are beyond words,” said Gadd. “They’ve created a warm, inviting and welcoming environment and really exemplify what’s required in providing compassionate care with dignity. They’re also a wonderful resource for questions and demonstrations.”

Gadd is paired with a Lee Manor PSW and follows along with their routine. She’s been able to participate in providing personalized care such as assistance with eating, bathing, grooming, and washroom help.

“My favourite part is talking to the residents and starting to build a positive rapport with them,” explained Gadd. “There’s a lot of smiles and laughs throughout the day from everyone. There are organized activities and services that the residents participate in and use. It’s wonderful to witness and to be able to share in these moments. I’m learning new routines and applying the skills I’ve learned firsthand.”

Gadd said being a part of this program has been an outstanding experience.

“The program has exceeded my expectations,” said Gadd. “I’ve been having an exceptionally positive experience with Georgian and the PSW course. I love that I get a combination of theoretical and lab training so I can see the skills performed and apply them firsthand.”

Chelsea Cornell, Co-ordinator for the PSW program said the students have worked remarkably hard at obtaining all their clinical requirements in a short amount of time to be eligible to pass their Lab Skills course and head out to their clinical placements.

“The majority of students have been diligent with their studies,” said Cornell. “They’ve been able to demonstrate competency, confidence and critical thinking in a variety of scenarios – both in the lab and virtual classroom as well as through assignments. All while proving to be compassionate and caring individuals.”

Gadd looks forward to working in Grey Bruce full-time as a PSW after she graduates.

“I grew up here and it means a lot to stay and establish myself and my career,” noted Gadd. “There are some great opportunities available, and our communities are amazing and flourishing. I’m enthusiastic about what Grey Bruce has to offer in this line of work. My hopes are to work in palliative care and hospice.”

Shauna Gadd is enjoying her paid placement at Lee Manor in Owen Sound. The Walkerton mom is finishing up the Personal Support Worker program at Georgian College’s Owen Sound Campus.  Down the road she plans to continue her education by applying to the part-time Practical Nursing program at Georgian.