On the road to becoming an orderly, 160 Shadd students met the incredible challenge of completing a condensed 375-hour course in patient support this past summer at Shadd Health and Business Center. The students were enrolled in a training program for the Health Care Facility Patient Service Support Skills Training Certificate (STC in English; AEP in French), a precursor to training towards becoming an orderly in the Quebec medical system.
Shadd students were divided into eight groups, made up of 20 students each. The first six groups did three weeks of in-school training at the center starting in mid-June. The second started in early July. Each set then continued on to complete their hands-on training for six weeks at their affiliated CIUSSS, where they would stay on for a minimum of one year, and allows them to work in the CHSLDs under a bursary from the Quebec government.
About 95 percent graduated from the Shadd summer program, said Principal Joe Cacchione. The Quebec government launched the Skills Training Certificate in the early summer of 2020 to pump up the numbers of orderly positions in its medical workforce.
Even though it does not represent the full training a PAB receives, the “learning curve [of the STC] is huge,” said Mr. Cacchione. “They have to learn and adapt very quickly. The feedback I get from students is that the experience is amazing. Some people need a little bit more time to learn, and they find it difficult. But overall, what I am hearing from students is extremely positive.”
Graduates immediately go to work in a CHSLD, where they tend to their patients, always alongside a registered PAB.
How big a factor was physical distancing in the coursework? There was none, explained Mr. Cacchione. There would be no physical distance from the patients in a real-life setting, so there was none from each other in training simulations. “At first, there were eyebrows raised when I told them that it was important to protect themselves because there would be no physical distance,” he said.
It took a week for instructors to teach the full process of managing personal protective equipment; how to safely put on and remove gowns, masks and visors, and more. “They were taught, ‘Before you get close to another person, this is how you do it,’” he said. “Vocational training is all about what you are going to be applying in your job, in this case, to live exactly what they will be living in the CHSLD.”
Teacher Maria Draicchio shared her experience: “The willingness to succeed with these students is amazing,” she said “We are fortunate to have such motivated students. I miss them.”
Because of various restrictions to social gatherings since the summer, Shadd was not able to have a graduation ceremony for these students, but Mr. Cacchione hoped a “celebration of success” could be held next June.
“I met with many students throughout the program,” Mr. Cacchione said. “I heard beautiful stories. It was a call for these students. They wanted to help others.”
One student’s comments really stood out. She told him: “All patients need a little bit of love, especially the ones who deserve it the least, the ones who give you a hard time, the ones who need more attention.”
Maria Dhe Paganon, a student, said “With our attitude, actions or with a simple smile, we make a difference in their life.”
A fellow student, Dave Morin, had this to say: “It’s definitely been quite an experience overall. Interacting with different residents daily has been an eye opener on the varying needs each resident requires. They enjoy that I talk to them while I give them their care or thank me when I put in that extra effort when they need help with a task. I try to create a connection with them so that they are at ease and feel that they can trust me to take their concerns seriously. They often open up about their history, and it is very enriching to hear. This allows me to reflect deeply on my own life in a way that I never have before.”
Mr. Cacchione said the bottom line in recognizing the work these students are doing is “the impact they have on these people’s lives, whatever time they have left.” He also praised the teachers by saying “Hats off to the teachers, who gave up their summer to teach the course.”