Kwinana resident Debra Ryder decided earlier this year that it was time for her to re-enter the workforce. After focusing on her family for years (she is a mother of five and a grandmother of 13) she wanted to get out of the house and achieve some of her goals.
In a few weeks time she will be able to add ‘qualified patient care assistant (PCA)’ to her list of achievements, with great prospects for ongoing employment and a career.
Deb will be one of the first students to complete the Certificate III course in Health Services Assistance at Challenger TAFE. This course is a unique partnership between Challenger TAFE and St John of God Hospital in Murdoch. It prepares students for working as a PCA in various areas of the hospital through a combination of theory classes and work placements.
In addition to the course or working in the hospital, Deb is juggling the school run for four of her grandchildren and cooking dinner for at least seven people every day.
“It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. I’m doing this to make something of myself, but more than that I want to show my grandchildren that, as an Aboriginal, it is possible to achieve something if you really want it” Deb said.
“I’m enjoying my work as a PCA in the intensive care unit at the moment. It’s great to be working with a team of very dedicated PCA’s here in the hospital. They are happy to answer my questions and help me learn on the job.”
“But I couldn’t have done it without Yvonne, our lecturer. She is always there for us and understands that the medical technology can be quite hard to understand.”
Challenger TAFE course coordinator and lecturer Yvonne Duffield is impressed with the group of 17 students who are currently enrolled in the course.
“Deb is certainly one of my star students. She is so motivated and she asks lots of good questions. I have received wonderful reports from St John of God Hospital Murdoch about her work ethic and how well she fits in,” Yvonne said.
“We’ve had lots of people interested in this course already. The next course that starts this July is almost fully booked, but we’re more than happy to put people on the waiting list for the next one.”
For Deb this is only the start of her journey. She’s hoping she will eventually be able to enrol in a nursing degree.
“The experience I’m getting as a PCA will give me a great base for getting into nursing. I can see myself working in a hospital for a very long time,” Deb said.