New bursaries established by BC Care Providers Association (BCCPA) will provide nearly a full scholarship for aspiring health care assistants (HCA) at Okanagan College.
The non-profit that represents non-government operators of long-term care, assisted living and independent home care and support, is allotting $25,000 this year to set up eight student awards at the college valued at $3,125 each. The awards almost completely pay the tuition for the 6-month HCA certificate program, which costs $3,300.
“Health-care assistants play a significant role in our health system by providing day-to-day care to seniors and people with disabilities,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
“These positions are in demand throughout the province and these bursaries will provide people with an opportunity to enter into a rewarding career that makes a real difference in peoples’ everyday lives.”
In total, BCCPA is committing $100,000 to bursaries at post-secondary institutions across the province over the next three years.
The Okanagan College bursaries will give preference to Aboriginal students and anyone with past experience working or volunteering in health care.
“We want to attract more people to meaningful careers in seniors care,” says Aly Devji, BCCPA board chair.
“These bursaries will make it possible for anyone, regardless of financial ability, to become an HCA. We’re excited to be able to launch more people into rewarding careers working with seniors.”
The $25,000 gift will support Okanagan College’s $5-million fundraising campaign for a new Health Sciences Centre on its Kelowna campus. In addition to raising funds for the modern Centre, the fundraising campaign aims to create new student awards to encourage more people to enter high-demand health care careers.
BCCPA is deeply aware of the staffing shortages for health care professionals in the province, and especially the Okanagan. In 2018, BCCPA released a paper highlighting the issue called “The Perfect Storm: A Health Human Resource Crisis in Seniors Care.”
The paper outlines how an aging workforce, low-recruitment rates, high incidence of worker burnout and injury, funding challenges, and the increasing acuity level of seniors in care, are all factors that have contributed to create a perfect storm.
The report also recommends a number of solutions to address the issue, including attracting a younger generation of workers by providing tuition relief and bursaries for students.
“We’re very grateful to BC Care Providers for providing such significant support for students,” says Yvonne Moritz, Okanagan College Dean of Science, Technology and Health.
“Many mature students and single parents are attracted to the HCA program because of its short duration and the good paying jobs available, but for many, the cost of the program is a barrier. These awards will provide a significant stepping stone into a gratifying career.”
Teresa Wyman knows first-hand the importance of awards for HCA students. Wyman, 51, was working at Superstore for 20 years when she decided to follow her passion for caregiving and enrol in the HCA program at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.
Wyman took out student loans to pay for her tuition and received several student awards that helped her pay for the costs of the education. She says the new awards will go a long way in helping attract more students.
“I think it’s a great idea as there is a need among students in the program,” says Wyman, who adds she feels grateful to be following her dream.
“I go home on the weekend and can’t wait to go back to school on Monday. When I graduate I get to go out and help people, which is so nice.”
Allan Coyle, Public Affairs
Rumana D’Souza, Digital Media and Communications Specialist
BC Care Providers Association