Gateway to Canadian health care: 3 skills to be gained as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in Canada
Published May 8, 2023.
Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutesIn summary:
- Becoming a Personal Support Worker (PSW) can be an excellent starting point for internationally-trained healthcare professionals looking to enter the Canadian job market.
- The demand for PSWs in Canada is at an all-time high, with a projected need for over 60,000 new PSWs by 2026.
- By pursuing a career as a PSW, internationally-trained healthcare workers can gain valuable skills, build a strong network of contacts in the healthcare industry, and lay the foundation for a successful career in Canada's healthcare system.
As the Canadian population ages, the demand for healthcare professionals is growing rapidly. One profession that is in high demand is the Personal Support Worker (PSW). The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical role PSWs play in the Canadian healthcare system, while creating conditions such that there has never been a better time to pursue a career in this field in Canada.
One of the advantages of becoming a PSW is that it can be an excellent starting point for internationally-trained healthcare professionals looking to enter the Canadian job market. Foreign-trained healthcare professionals can leverage their existing skills and experience to excel in this important and flexible role. PSWs provide essential care and support to patients in a variety of settings, from hospitals and long-term care facilities to private homes, making this role an excellent way to gain experience and establish a foothold in the Canadian healthcare system.
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The demand for PSWs in Canada is at an all-time high, with a projected need for over 60,000 new PSWs by 2026. This demand is driven by several factors, including the aging population, the increased prevalence of chronic illnesses, and the aftermath of the pandemic on our healthcare system. As a result, PSWs are increasingly seen as a vital part of the healthcare team, and their work is highly valued by patients, families, and healthcare providers alike.
By pursuing a career as a PSW, internationally-trained healthcare professionals can gain valuable skills, build a strong network of contacts in the healthcare industry, and lay the foundation for a successful career in Canada's healthcare system. With the right training and support, PSWs can also go on to advance their careers in a variety of healthcare fields, from nursing to occupational therapy and beyond.
The Windmill Microlending blog reached out to Tara Stickwood, Client Services Supervisor at Circle of Care, a leading not-for-profit home and community care provider for individuals, with complex health needs, living in the Greater Toronto Area. Circle of Care employees and volunteers support everyday life activities for more than 16,000 clients and their families each year, helping them continue to live comfortably at home, where most of them want to be.
In this article, Stickwood shares the top three skills you can develop working, as a Personal Support Worker in a homecare environment, that will enhance your employability in the Canadian healthcare industry, long-term.
Circle of Care’s Tara Stickwood (pictured) highlights the top three skills you can gain as a foreign-trained health care professionals serving as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in Canada.
Skill #1: Adaptability
The work of a Personal Support Worker (PSW), particularly, in a homecare environment, requires that you be ready for anything. Local travel is part of the job, so besides the fact that you should always be ready to navigate weather conditions, you are also meeting various clients and caregivers and should be ready for unexpected situations. The fact that no day is the same means you will grow your ability to be flexible and adaptable to what your clients require of you, which is an important skillset in any healthcare environment. You will leverage technology by way of a mobile device to access resources, when and where you need them, including apps, eLearning modules, policies and best practice guidelines. You end up being quite quick on your feet, when it comes to people and technology.
WATCH: Tara Stickwood from Circle of Care shares the valuable skills you can add to your repertoire, as an internationally-trained health care professional, working as a PSW in Canada.
Skill #2: Working Autonomously
Homecare can be a unique healthcare setting and it requires PSWs to work independently as they travel from one client home to another without the in-person support of peers or a supervisor. There are a number of resources available at your fingertips via your mobile device but you are required to develop solutions for client challenges and make decisions independently. You develop the skill of identifying urgent concerns that require escalation and when to reach out for help. Having the ability to set priorities, problem solve, develop solutions and make decisions are all skills you will grow while working as a homecare PSW. These can and will serve you well in any healthcare role in the Canadian job market.
Skill #3: Language Skills
This job requires you to have basic English skills but if you’re looking to improve your English, a Personal Support Worker role may be the perfect job choice for you. It will provide you with the opportunity to practice and enhance language skills as it involves a great deal of interaction with clients, caregivers, peers and supervisors. You will learn basic Canadian healthcare industry terminology along with the nuances of communicating with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds.
You can learn more about PSW career opportunities through the Circle of Care website.
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