6 Signs of a Good Personal Support Worker Course: Student Checklist

Personal Support Worker students pose for a class photo at Herzing College Ottawa

Summary: Use this helpful checklist to compare Personal Support Worker courses near you. Find a high quality program that fully prepares you for a successful career.

It’s an excellent time to become a personal support worker (PSW) in Ontario. Demand is high for PSWs all across the province—and is expected to stay that way for the foreseeable future. 

Personal support workers are needed at hospitals, nursing homes, and private home-care companies throughout Ontario.

They play an absolutely crucial role in caring for people who need help with everyday living—including those with cognitive impairment, physical disabilities, and mental health challenges. 

Considering becoming a personal support worker? You're on track to start a rewarding career with plenty of employment opportunities.

Your first step is to find a good Personal Support Worker course that will fully prepare you for life on-the-job. What should you look for when comparing training programs?

Use this checklist to find the best possible course in your area. Find a PSW course that meets all the criteria on this list, and you will be well prepared for a successful career.


1. The Course follows NACC Training Standards for Personal support workers

This is a basic requirement for any quality Personal Support Worker course. You want a school that is accredited by the NACC (National Association of Career Colleges), and follows their National Training Standard for Personal Support Workers (2016). 

The NACC PSW Program sets strict standards for training, which ensure students graduate with the professional skills today’s employers are looking for.

☑️ Make sure the college you're considering is NACC accredited and follows the National Training Standard for Personal Support Workers.


2. Highly experienced, licensed instructors 

You want to learn from an instructor who has actually worked as a nurse or personal support worker. You will benefit from their first-hand experience in the field, and be much better prepared for your first job after college. 

A good PSW course is taught by certified, highly experienced instructors. For example, a Registered Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse, or other licensed healthcare provider.

Once you start working, you will probably report to a nurse who will supervise your work with patients. If your instructor is a nurse or former PSW, you will learn exactly what to expect and how to perform on-the-job.

☑️ Check the credentials and experience of the PSW instructor before you enrol in any course.


3. Make sure the personal support worker course includes a lengthy internship

Until you have completed an internship, you will not be prepared to start work as a personal support worker. The internship is a crucial part of personal support worker training, and should be included in the course you choose.

This is your chance to work with real patients in a real clinical setting. At Herzing College, our PSW students complete two internships. They do one placement in the community at a client's home, and another in a long-term care facility.

By the time they graduate, our students have 11 weeks of real work experience in the field. Both placements are closely supervised by the instructor. 

All interns start by observing the nurses and PSWs a few days a week. Gradually, you'll take on more responsibility, until you're working at the facility 5 days a week and looking after several clients on your own.

PSW graduate, Pauline Hughes-Derome explains how the internship works at Herzing College: 

“Right now, I’m working until 3:00 pm, 3 days a week. I have 5 clients to look after. But moving into the last stage of my internship, I will increase to 5 days a week, and be responsible for 8 clients. 

And after my placement at Hillel Lodge is complete, I’ll do another internship at a seniors home, where the clients are more mobile and independent. This will give me additional work experience in a different kind of setting. I’m really looking forward to it!” 

☑️ Confirm the Personal Support Worker course includes an internship and ask how long it is.


4. Check the Graduate employment rate 

You should definitely check the graduate employment rate of any Personal Support Worker course you're considering. How many students actually get hired after completing the training? 

This number will tell you two key things: 

1. How well the course prepares students for the workforce

2. Whether local employers trust the training

You should find graduate employment rates listed clearly on the school website.

At Herzing, we’re very proud to report that in 2019, 98% of our PSW grads found employment (statistic based on most recent available data). 

☑️ Ask Admissions about the graduate employment rate for the PSW course. Look for a minimum of 85%.


5. Positive Reviews from course graduates

Ask around. Do you know someone who has taken the Personal Support Worker course you’re considering?

What is their opinion of the instructor, curriculum, learning environment, and internship? 

Check out the school website and social media channels for student reviews. You can also ask local long-term care facilities which schools they trust most. Where do they hire from?

Do your homework and gather advice and personal experiences from people in the field. 

Here's a good example of a PSW program review. This graduate gives a detailed account of her experience in class and an in-depth review of the program.


6. A Helpful Admissions Team

Your experience with Admissions can tell you a lot about the quality of the PSW training. Before you enroll in any course, you'll need to talk with an Admissions Advisor, to figure out the steps to apply and other key information.

During your appointment, you’ll get the chance to ask questions about the Personal Support Worker course. You can ask about graduate employment rates, who teaches the course, and all the other points on this checklist.

It’s also the perfect time to discuss tuition, financial aid options, and walk through the entire application process. The Advisor is there to make this easier. And to help you confirm whether the course is right for you.

Is the Admissions Advisor helpful, supportive, and knowledgeable? Do they answer all your questions thoroughly and make you feel comfortable?

Once you've met with Admissions, you'll know for sure if the Personal Support Worker course is worth your time and money.

☑️ Make sure the Admissions Advisor answers all your questions and provides detailed information on the Personal Support Worker course.


Ready to get started? Use this checklist to compare and evaluate all the PSW courses near you.

Now you're fully prepared to find a great course and start your career with confidence. We wish you the best of luck on your journey.


Learn more about Herzing's Personal Support Worker Course

Herzing College Ottawa offers an 8-month Personal Support Worker course. Training includes an 11-week internship and certificates in First Aid and CPR.

Our program is accredited by the NACC and based on the highest standards for PSW programs in Ontario.  

If you’re interested in learning more, click below to explore the course and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We're here to help!

Explore the Personal Support Worker Program


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