Thinking of becoming a personal support worker (PSW) in Canada? If you are passionate about helping the elderly, those who are disabled, or those who are ill and would like a quick start in the healthcare industry, then this is a promising path to take!
Similar to other healthcare-related jobs, there is a high demand for personal support workers, which makes finding a secure job relatively easy! After all, the healthcare industry is a fundamental part of society which makes a career in supportive care highly stable and secure.
Another reason why becoming a PSW is a desirable path to many is because it bridges seamlessly into a career as a registered nurse. But, before jumpstarting your career, remember that, like other jobs, there are pros and cons of being a PSW.
In this blog, we will cover the highs and the lows of being a PSW to help you make an informed decision. Then, we will discuss your next steps to help you pursue this career!
The Pros of Being a PSW
1. It’s a Hands-on Career That Makes a Difference in People’s Lives
Of all the PSW benefits, if this appeals to you the most, there is a high likelihood that you will experience a strong sense of fulfillment in this career. As a personal support worker, you have a special role that cannot be filled by physicians, nurses, or even the patient’s own family. You will get to spend the most time with the patient(s) and directly see to their physical and psycho-social well-being.
You will assist patients with activities of daily living – such as eating, taking medication, grooming, and so on. You will also make sure that the patient has proper nutrition and exercises or partakes in activities that are recommended by their healthcare provider. And to top it all off, you are the person the patient can confide in.
As a PSW, you get to have such a direct impact on the quality of life of someone who is in great need of care.
2. Accelerated Training Paths – a Quick Start Into the Healthcare Industry
Many careers in healthcare require years and years of education before you can get started. However, to become a PSW through the NACC Personal Support Worker Program offered by Cestar College, you only need 7 months of immersive training.
By the time you graduate, you will have all the theoretical knowledge, skills, and practical experience employers are looking for.
3. Various Opportunities for PSW Career Growth
PSWs can grow in their career by gaining more work experience through time or through continued education. Various pieces of training are available online, through institutions, or even through employers. You can even find courses that are free of charge such as those offered by the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety.
Additionally, as you get more experience, more varied work environments will open up for you. For example, experienced PSWs can work in hospitals as surgical suite attendants or perioperative support assistants.
Lastly, you can use the experience you get as a PSW to seamlessly start a career as a registered nurse. In Canada, numerous colleges offer PSW to RPN bridging programs which allows PSWs to easily upgrade their qualifications.
4. Job Security and Stability
There is currently a high demand for PSWs in Canada. One of the reasons behind this is that within recent years, the population of individuals aged 65 – 84 collectively rose by more than 1.4 million. The people within this age bracket are likely to be in need of some level of supportive care – whether it’s through home care, in a nursing home, or in an assisted living community.
Due to the rising demand, PSW jobs are readily available for new graduates. And because healthcare is a consistent and fundamental need in our society, a career as a PSW will remain stable and secure.
The Cons of Being a PSW
1. The Possibility of Challenging Patients/Clients
There are times when PSW work really requires one to have the utmost patience and emotional resilience. PSWs need to care for the disabled, the elderly, and/or the chronically ill. These patients tend to be sensitive and may get upset or uncooperative at times.
It could be because the patients themselves are also having internal struggles – they may be trying to cope with recent changes in their living conditions or perhaps the loss of a spouse. Additionally, disabilities, whether mental or physical, can also become a source of frustration for patients. Naturally, as humans, we lash out at those closest to us – including you as a PSW.
2. Losing Patients – The Ability to Handle Grief
When discussing the pros and cons of being a PSW, it’s important to note this con in particular as it’s shared by nearly all healthcare-related careers – the possibility of losing a patient and the grief that follows.
When working as PSW, emotional connections with patients tend to happen more because of how much time they spend giving direct supportive care to their patients. Furthermore, this career path tends to attract those with a strong sense of compassion and care and are likely to form emotional connections with the people they help.
Loss and grief are definitely challenges – but not without silver linings. If you choose to become a PSW, you won’t be alone in dealing with grief. Co-workers can provide emotional support and share their own experiences in handling the loss of a patient close to their hearts. The patient’s family may also reach out to you to thank you for the valuable work you’ve done in the patient’s last days.
3. Possible Irregular Hours and Staff Shortages
One of the challenges of being a PSW is that some jobs will have irregular hours or shift work. This may be compounded by the possibility of staff shortages. Unfortunately, this is the downside of the high demand involved in this career path; some workplaces simply don’t have enough staff, and the end result is having overworked employees. This is common in all healthcare-related fields, whether you’re a physician, registered nurse, or a personal support worker.
It’s also important to recognize that not all work environments for PSWs are like this. As a personal support worker, you also have the option to choose to work in home care, which allows you to focus on just one patient at a time.
Get a Strong Start in Your PSW Career
That wraps up our list of pros and cons of being a PSW! Perhaps you have thought about becoming a personal support worker for a while, or maybe you’ve had the recent inspiration to pursue this career path; either way, now that you know about the pros and cons of being a PSW, you can make an informed decision about your next steps.
If you are looking to get started on a career as a PSW in Ontario, you need an immersive, comprehensive program that adheres to the Ontario PSW Training Standard and is provided by a trusted institution like Cestar College. At Cestar College, our NACC Personal Support Worker Course sets aspiring PSWs up for success. With our complete and carefully designed curriculum, you will have the theoretical knowledge and practical experience that you need to be considered by employers, even as a fresh graduate.
On top of this, we offer various financing options, graduate career assistance, and much more. Get the strong start that guarantees a bright future in this fulfilling career. If you have any questions about our PSW course or the pros and cons of being a PSW, please feel free to contact us!