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Personal support workers (PSWs) are probably the most versatile and essential workers in the healthcare field, along with nurses, and they are currently in high demand. Their main role is providing assistance to people who cannot care for themselves, but they do so much more. If this is a career you may be interested in pursuing, keep reading, because in this article we will talk about the requirements to enroll in a PSW course, as well as the PSW job requirements you need to know before starting your job search.
In Ontario, the first requirement to become a PSW is to complete a PSW program in an accredited public, private, or community college and obtain a diploma. The Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities is the only institution in the province that can provide accreditations to academic organizations, and it also sets the standard for the curriculum.
To graduate from a PSW course, there are several classes all PSW students need to pass, which will provide them with the practical and theoretical knowledge to offer patients and clients the highest standard of general care. Additionally, PSWs in training will learn how to care for patients with specific needs like physical disabilities, mental health difficulties, and cognitive impairments. Classes aren’t necessarily named the same across all accredited institutions in the province, but they do follow the same guidelines that are part of the academic standard for all PSW programs.
The current educational standard for Personal Support Worker programs was published in 2014 by the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. The document was developed in conjunction with the Ministries of Health and Long-Term Care and Education of Ontario.
Once someone has completed a PSW Course and obtained a diploma, they are supposed to have all the basic skills necessary to land an entry-level job and start the second part of their training, which is gaining actual professional experience. This is what will set them apart from other caregivers.
To get admitted into a PSW course, candidates need to comply with some academic requirements, such as having an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), which is the main one. Candidates coming from outside the province need a Grade 12 Diploma (or a Secondary V diploma, for people from Quebec), and also the average grades required by the institution they are applying to.
If a candidate doesn’t have an OSSD or equivalent diploma, they might still be accepted in a PSW course as a mature student. This is an option for students over 19 years of age, and it allows them to pursue a PSW career by taking certain prerequisite classes and then resuming the admissions process using these grades.
For international candidates who would like to become PSWs in Canada, requirements are a bit more complex. They need to provide an equivalent secondary school diploma from their country of origin, including a course-by-course breakdown, as well as a certification from a credential assessment service (ICAS) like World Education Services (WES), indicating that their academic documents have been properly evaluated. These documents are necessary for institutions to determine if their secondary diploma is an appropriate equivalent to an OSSD.
Additionally, international students from non-English speaking countries have to provide translations of all their documentation, which should be done by a certified translator in Canada. They also need to meet an English Language Proficiency Requirement (ELPR), which is usually done by taking one of the available standardized tests like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
It should be noted that these are just basic admission requirements that are commonly indicated by academic institutions in Ontario offering PSW courses. However, meeting these minimum requirements doesn’t guarantee entrance to a program, since some of them also require additional prerequisites, such as aptitude tests, essays, etc.
When looking for a job in the caregiving field, candidates need to know that most PSW job requirements are related to education, but also experience, even for entry-level positions. So, apart from having completed a PSW course or program, employers usually ask for experience working with certain types of patients, like seniors, in community settings or health service organizations.
Hiring managers looking for full-time or part-time caregivers also ask for certifications such as Basic Cardiac Life Support and First Aid, as well as a recent criminal record check or a clear police vulnerable sector check, and professional references. Plus, most of them ask for strong written and oral communication and basic computer skills.
Furthermore, some healthcare organizations where PSWs are needed have additional requirements like recent health testing, depending on the type of patients or clients workers will be in contact with. Testing can include tuberculosis and chest x rays.
Other common PSW job requirements are a valid G or G2 driver’s license, auto insurance, and reliable private vehicle; the flexibility to work different shifts like evening and weekend, or to be on-call; or availability to work added shifts without much advance notice and to attend to training, shifts, and meetings.
What do you think of these common requirements as by organizations where PSWs are needed? Are you up to the task? Let of know your thoughts!
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