Are you looking to dedicate your professional life to helping others by pursuing Personal Support Worker training? Kindness, compassion, and empathy are common traits found amongst individuals who have a desire to help others, even on their own time. Those passionate about personal support work typically find themselves volunteering in order to give back to the community.
Not only can volunteering provide a feel-good experience, but it’s also an excellent way to practice and develop your skills both before and during your PSW program. Here are three ways volunteering can reinforce what you learn in your PSW program.
Hands-on learning is an effective way for students to develop the skills they’ll need to succeed once they begin their careers. That’s why volunteering is a great way for students to take the knowledge they’ll learn in their PSW program to the next level. Candice Wassill, a clinical instructor at Saint Elizabeth Health Career College (SEHCC) with over 20 years of experience in long-term care, offers her insights into how volunteering can support what students learn during the PSW program.
“Volunteering offers people a hands-on experience in the field of their interest. It helps reinforce the knowledge they are gaining through their studies so they can relate.” She explains, “For the PSW program, [students] should be looking for things in long-term care, group homes, adult day programs, hospitals, rehab centers, and retirement homes. Anywhere they may have the opportunity to feed residents at meal time or help with transfers. These are all things they are going to learn and it reinforces the things they will see later on in the program.”
Candice describes the learning process as having a “light-bulb” moment. Students make the empowering connection between their volunteer experience and the skills and techniques they are taught in the classroom.
PSW students may learn about meal time while volunteering
Above all else, Candice emphasizes how volunteering before and during a PSW Certificate program helps students gain confidence in their skills. After already being immersed in the industry while volunteering, students can ease their nerves about beginning their education, clinical placement, and eventually their career.
Candice shares, “I think when [students are] starting a new program there’s always the fear of the unknown. If you volunteer, you know how the inner-workings work, you get used to the jargon, the routines, and things like that. It gives you that edge above the other students.”
Volunteers new to the industry, such as PSW college students, usually interact with many types of clients and residents throughout their volunteering experience. Learning how to handle the unique situations that come with those experiences and gaining the confidence to do so is another way volunteering reinforces PSW training: “[Students] learn how to interact with people with chronic illness, disabilities, and dementia[…]they learn how to interact without escalating things and gain confidence from having that practical experience.”
Volunteering gives employers the chance to see how you interact with residents
Including volunteer work on your resume is a great way to reinforce the skills you will have gained once you graduate from Personal Support Worker college. In addition, volunteering opens the door to a variety of opportunities, and can be one of the first chances you’ll have to meet others in your field, growing your professional network. At the beginning of her career, Candice started by volunteering (also known as candy striping) and her career snowballed from there.
“I started out in the therapy pools as a candy striper volunteering. [I was] able to use that experience to get into school, but also to get my first job.” She explains, “I started right at the beginning.”
From her personal experiences in management, Candice knows hiring managers are always on the lookout for reliable and punctual employees. Students who demonstrate desirable qualities while volunteering have the ultimate advantage when a job opportunity arises. Candice shares, “Volunteering gets the student’s foot in the door and into a facility so staff and managers can see how they interact with other staff and the residents.”
Volunteering can not only help your job prospects, but it also provides real work experience and looks great on your resume.
Are you interested in enrolling in Personal Support Worker courses in Ontario?
Contact Saint Elizabeth Health Career College today!