Photo: Krizia Mae Macusi at Hillel Lodge where she was hired as a Personal Support Worker after graduating from Herzing last May.
Personal Support Workers have been in the spotlight recently, along with other essential health care providers working on the front lines during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Personal Support Workers (PSWs) help care for our seniors in long-term care facilities, retirements homes, and hospitals. They also make home visits, to help people with special needs live safely and independently in their own residences.
It's an increasingly important job, as the number of seniors in Ontario grows, and our healthcare resources continue to shrink.
Herzing College graduate, Krizia Mae Macusi started Personal Support Worker training before the pandemic hit. She was in the middle of her work placement when retirement homes began shutting their doors to interns because of Covid-19.
Nevertheless, she finished the program (and her work placement) very successfully, and was immediately hired by Hillel Lodge.
In fact, her entire graduating class was hired by Hillel Lodge.
This week, we interviewed Krizia to get her overall opinion of Herzing's PSW program and find out how work is going.
She talked about the toughest and best parts of training, what she loves most about being a PSW, and what it takes to succeed in this career.
A big thank-you to Krizia for answering all our questions!
Q: Krizia, can you share a little about your background? What were you doing before you enrolled at Herzing?
Krizia: I grew up in the Philippines. Before I started the Personal Support Worker program at Herzing, I was a medical office administrator for almost 3 years at a family clinic here in Ottawa.
Q: What inspired you to become a Personal Support Worker?
Krizia: One thing that inspired me to become a PSW is my grandparents. I also really enjoyed helping seniors, adults and young people when I was still working as a medical office administrator.
Q: How was your experience in the PSW program and at Herzing in general?
Krizia: The PSW program was long but worth it. I learned a lot of things about the outlook of life and how to care for people.
Our instructor was very professional. She is so knowledgeable and has so much professional experience to share with the students. You will be shocked when you start working, because all you can say is “she was right!”
We were just 7 students in our group and we treated each other like family. It made being in the program so much easier. We helped each other and made sure that no one was left behind.
Years before, I had graduated from Herzing's Medical Admin program. I went back to the same school for PSW training because the location is so accessible, and the faculty and staff are so dedicated to helping the students.
From the moment you start planning to return to school, to your final day of class, Herzing is there to support you. I would definitely recommend Herzing's Personal Support Worker program.
Q: What were the most important skills you learned in class?
Krizia: The most meaningful skills I learned were to have a genuine interest in people, a commitment to helping, and always providing compassionate care.
Q: Can you tell us about your internship at Hillel Lodge? What was a typical day like for you?
Krizia: When I first started at Hillel Lodge, I was shadowing my preceptor. After a day or two, she decided I was ready to have my own resident to look after. So she assigned me one resident, and each week after that she added one or two more residents for me to care for.
I always started my day by getting the residents up for breakfast, giving them a bath, setting up foods, assisting them with personal hygiene, putting them to bed, and tidying up their rooms.
Q: What was the toughest part of PSW training for you?
Krizia: The course on Anatomy was the toughest part of PSW training for me. Trust me, I think everyone will say the same thing! But if you're really good at memorization, this course will be easier for you.
During my placement, the hardest part was to manage my time. For me it was easy to provide a good quality of care, but to finish on time was a big challenge. I get so absorbed in what I am doing, I don’t notice how fast the time goes by.
Q: Which part of the PSW program did you enjoy the most?
Krizia: I liked the whole program, including the placement. And even the CPR training was fun, too.
When I started my placement, I told myself that I liked being in class better. But after a week, I started loving my placement. It was a great overall experience being in this program.
Q: I heard that Hillel Lodge offered you a job after graduation. Can you tell us about that?
Krizia: We were supposed to do a second placement in a retirement home last April. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the retirement home cancelled the placement.
Herzing asked us if we wanted to finish our placement at Hillel, or wait until the pandemic was over and continue in a retirement home. We all agreed to stay at Hillel, and that's when we heard the good news.
Hillel Lodge offered to hire my whole class of PSW students. We started working during our placement, and Herzing counted those extra work hours toward our training, so I was able to finish my placement earlier. And then I continued working at Hillel after graduation.
Q: In your opinion, what's the best part of being a Personal Support Worker?
Krizia: For me, the most rewarding part is seeing my clients happy with the care that I provide for them. And being a PSW gives you a broader perspective on life, both the negative and positive aspects.
Q: How does someone know they're a good fit for this career?
Krizia: To be a PSW, you should have compassion for others and a deep desire to help people. Having patience is also very important (I was surprised how much patience I had when I started this career). And you must be willing to continue learning each and every day.
Thank-you, Krizia for taking the time to share your experience with us. We're very proud of your dedication and success as a PSW. We wish you a long and happy career!
Have questions about becoming a Personal Support Worker?
Explore the Personal Support Worker program at Herzing College Ottawa. This program is 8 months long and includes an 11-week internship.
Courses cover all the skills and knowledge you need to become a successful PSW.
Click below to get full program details. You can chat live with an Advisor or request information via email. We're here to help!