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The educational journey of a health care assistant

Roberta Russell, while showing remarkable courage and determination during her studies, recently graduated from NWCC’s Health Care Assistant (HCA) program,

“I hadn’t really thought about a career in health care until I did an Occupational First Aid level 3 course”, said Roberta. “The instructor told me that I should consider a career in nursing, and that was seven years ago.”

“Originally I had set my sights on becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse but at the time I was a single mom with two jobs and there wasn’t enough time,” Roberta explains. “Then late last year the Health Care Assistant program was announced and I knew that this was my chance to train for a professional, full-time career.”

Roberta enrolled in Career and College Preparation (CCP) at NWCC’s Houston Campus to upgrade before applying to the HCA program.

“I cannot speak highly enough of all the CCP instructors and staff who have been a constant source of support and encouragement” she says. “Much of the attraction of CCP is its flexible and all inclusive approach to education.”

“Everyone is welcome regardless of ability,” Roberta reflects. “The CCP department is also open on some evenings to enable employed students the opportunity to go to school”.    

Having gained the prerequisites, Roberta applied and successfully enrolled in the HCA program in January 2014.

“I was terrified at the beginning and intimidated by all the new terminology and the amount of home study,” she says. “I would go home with tears in my eyes, but my husband would grab my books and say ‘You’ve come this far so there’s no quitting! Get studying and I’ll make you a cup of tea and we’ll take it from there.”

Without the love and support of my family I never could have completed this course, and to them I am truly grateful.”

When asked what Roberta liked most about the HCA program she replied without hesitation, “It’s simple; I’ve found something that I am really passionate about.”

“It’s as if my clients are guests in my own home and, as such, must be treated with the love and respect they deserve, “ she says. “It’s what I have been taught, to respect elders and to look after people the way we would wish our own parents to be looked after.”

“The program has also helped me to be a positive role model to my son and daughter. It has changed the way I parent my children and has improved my self-confidence and relationship with my husband,” Roberta reflects.

“The HCA program has worked for me on so many different levels and if a person were to approach the program with an open mind I can’t recommend it highly enough,” she says.

Since graduating in July, Roberta has received several job opportunities and is currently working successfully as a certified Health Care Assistant in the Bulkley Valley. Originally from Hazelton, Roberta now lives with her family in Houston. 


For more information on Northwest Community College's Health Care Assistant Program visit:

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