CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection


Social trends creating new training options

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun

The conventional wisdom used to be: Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. Nowadays, with people living longer and the medical establishment identifying new illnesses all the time, the ways in which we heal ourselves has multiplied exponentially -- and those aspiring to advance professionally in health care are taking advantage.

To get in on the action, pay attention to three current continuing education programs in Ontario that are growing in popularity.

Complementary health

In 2000-01, 11% of Canadians over age 12 consulted an alternative health-care provider at least once, such as a massage therapist, homeopath, herbalist or acupuncturist, Statistics Canada reports. The Basic Natural Health program at the Windsor campus of St. Clair College is helping to meet some of the growing demand for natural treatment options.

Featuring instruction in subjects such as cleansing and detoxification, herbology, flower essences and aromatherapy, the program is geared toward those wanting to work or advance in the natural health consulting industry, or find out whether they may want to work as a natural healer.

"There has been tremendous demand for this program," says Irene Moore, supervisor of continuing education at St. Clair College, who helped develop and launch the program in 2002. "We normally start a new program by offering isolated workshops and courses, but this is the first time we've gone right into offering a comprehensive program. These classes are always full."

Students who sign up for the series of 12 evening courses learn about: how to maximize athletic performance through natural substances; how vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids and enzymes work to improve health and prevent/combat illness; how dietary changes can alleviate allergy symptoms; and what, as a retailer, you may and may not tell clients about the benefits of complementary health products.

Those who successfully complete the program as well as a final competency exam receive an award of achievement, which will give them an edge when working in natural health retailing.

Learn more by visiting

St. Clair College

Statistics Canada reports that by 2021, one in three Canadians will be age 55 and over, compared to one in five in 2001. The greying of the baby boom generation will inevitably create great demand for health-care professionals skilled in working with seniors.

Enter Community Mental Health - Gerontology, a part-time, eight-course certificate program offered by Niagara College that's geared toward enhancing the knowledge and skills of mental health workers who care for the elderly in their homes, institutions and other community settings.

A post-basic program geared toward those who already possess a related diploma or degree, the curriculum covers essentials such as issues and trends in geriatric mental health; developing functional relationships with patients; and assessment and treatment approaches. Students must also complete a field practicum, wherein they provide 60 hours of supervised volunteer service to an agency that supports mentally ill seniors.

"In the past, people died of communicable diseases. Now, people are living longer, and we're seeing illnesses we've never seen before," says Cheryl Bridenbaker, development officer for health sciences at Niagara College. "We have a lot of seniors in the Niagara area, and there's going to be a demand for workers trained in this area."

To find out more, check out the continuing education department at Niagara College online at

Occupational Health Nursing

Increased awareness about issues such as infection control, workplace stress and ergonomics has led to growing demand for Humber College's Occupational Health and Safety Nursing certificate.

Open to registered nurses, the nine-course program features instruction in: counselling and crisis intervention; environmental toxicology assessments; social and legislative trends and issues; and cost-benefit analysis of occupational, organizational and community health-care services as a tool to develop effective policies.

Students are prepared to fulfil a number of roles in the workplace setting, including: organizational manager, health and safety educator, disability case manager, clinical practitioner and facilitator of a health-care team.

Those interested can find out more by visiting http://cecal

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