A partnership between Drumheller Valley Secondary School, Campus Alberta Central, and Red Deer College has given young adults in the valley the opportunity to fast track their post-secondary careers. 

The Health Care Aide Certificate Program allows high school students to earn a post-secondary certificate along with still earning high school credits.

This is the second time the program has run, and students have just wrapped up their practicums.

Five of the students who took the course will be continuing on with their careers in the medical field. Drumheller Valley Secondary School has the program set to run again in September.

Health Care Aide - Dual Credit Drumheller

Nancy Schilling

Nancy Schilling’s two-year journey to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) began in September 2017, and her educational goal started to come to fruition through the convenient delivery of the program through Campus Alberta Central (CAC) which brings educational opportunities to regional learners.

Nancy has a variety of job skills and employment experiences, but always had a keen interest in nursing. “I stayed at home to raise my four children and I helped with the bookkeeping for the business that my husband and I owned,” she says. “In the past, I worked at a bank and as a health care aide but becoming a nurse has been a passion of mine.”

As a busy mother, wife and student, the ability to study locally without having to regularly commute was an advantage.

“We moved from Athabasca back to Stettler to be closer to family, and having the LPN program here makes it possible for me to complete,” she explains. “It would be more difficult if I had to take all of the courses away from home. Local nurses teach us and RDC instructors travel to Stettler so it is an ideal situation.”

Despite the demands of the courses, Nancy appreciates the extraordinary calibre of her education. “It is a challenging nursing program with full days of classes and hours of homework, but we receive a high quality education,” she says.

Students gain valuable knowledge and skills in areas such as: anatomy and physiology, communication, leadership, health assessment, pharmacology and pathophysiology along with five beneficial practical experiences.

The small class size allows for more interaction with instructors and classmates while still providing the opportunity to meet as a larger group. “There are only 14 students in our classes in Stettler which is nice,” says Nancy. “Once in a while the practical nursing students from Rocky Mountain House, Stettler and Red Deer get together at RDC for orientation or a meeting.”

Nancy is excited about becoming a nurse and the promising employment opportunities. “I plan to be finished in April, 2019 and the job prospects look good in practical nursing, especially for those who want to work with seniors,” she says. “I love working with the elderly and it has been an area that I’ve wanted to work in for a long time.”

Chris Shiner

Chris Shiner always enjoyed operating machines and wanted to train with a certified program that would successfully prepare him for a future career as a heavy equipment operator. Shiner saw a great opportunity to reach his target through Campus Alberta Central (CAC). The Heavy Equipment Operator (HEO) Certificate program ran from September 5, 2017 – November 24, 2017 in Drumheller, and Shiner was pleased with his decision to train through CAC.

“The primary draw for me was that the training was from an accredited post-secondary institution, and I felt that would better position me for a future career in the field,” he said.

The former owner of a catering company, who also worked as a snow-maker and a foreman of a tree planting crew, decided to return to school to better his future and follow his passion after a workplace injury. “I wanted a change in careers and this program was something that I was interested in,” said Shiner, who commuted from Calgary to Drumheller. “The program length of 12 weeks was appealing. I have always enjoyed working with machines and in the past I worked extensively with snow-cats.”

Being able to practice on up to date equipment at a reasonable personal investment was appealing. “I was able to work with brand new equipment which was a big benefit. The cost of the program was also less than if I trained through a private organization,” said Shiner. “I enjoyed the course and the people, and I made some good friends.”

The quality programming helped Shiner quickly acquire work. “I moved to Langley, BC, the day after my course finished because I secured employment in the field,” he said. “My schooling provided me with the basics, and my on the job experience will give me the hours needed to reach the level of a competent operator.”

Shiner appreciated the evolution of equipment know-how and diversity of the program. “I liked the progression of the skills taught and the opportunity to work on all of the machines,” he said. “I feel capable of handling a variety of machines now.”