For any First Nations, Inuit or Métis working in the medical field who has wanted to brush up or enhance their knowledge from the comfort of their own home, free of cost, Saint Elizabeth may just have something to offer you.

According to Saint Elizabeth program assistant, Suzanne Stephenson, Saint Elizabeth Health Care is not a school per se but rather an organization that has been around since 1908 with a vision of honouring the human side of health care.

“The idea behind the organization is to bring health care to people and so for instance, a lot of what Saint Elizabeth does is home-care visits by nurses and other health-care workers who will come into someone’s home to offer care in various contexts,” said Stephenson.

As part of their mission to address the gaps within Aboriginal communities throughout Canada, for the last decade the organization has offered a series of pertinent health-care courses with the idea of working towards equalizing access to health care in that area.

“We are able through federal, provincial and charitable funding to offer these courses at no cost to First Nations communities and so it’s not a school but an online e-learning platform for these communities,” explained Stephenson.

Through Saint Elizabeth’s At Your Side program, medical professionals, such as nurses, community health representatives and those in other related fields, can chose from a wide variety of courses geared at enhancing their current knowledge in on specific topics.

“At the moment we are offering programs to address various health problems that affect First Nations. For instance, we currently have a cancer-care course available that is given in both English and French and that course is offered in partnership with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer,” said Stephenson.

At Your Side offers a diabetes circle of care course, a chronic pulmonary disease course and there are also courses in wound management and computers as well such as a personal support worker course – one for senior care, one for cardiac care and one for clinical skills

These courses are not geared at replacing a formal certificate program from a Cégep or college however, they are about helping those already in the field who may want to brush up in a specific area or find out what the latest information is in that area.

“We offer current, up-to-the-minute information on health-care issues and another feature of the courses is that they also include culturally appropriate and relevant content. So, for instance, they will mention traditional as well as western medicine approaches,” said Stephenson.

What makes At Your Side even more appealing is that individuals taking the courses can do so at their own pace and whenever they would like – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – there is absolutely no time limit.

Since the program is more about knowledge delivery instead of certificate training, individuals who want to brush up on a specific area of a course are welcome to go through that module. Students don’t have to complete the entire course if they don’t want to.

At the end of each course, students can take the knowledge test for that specific course to see if they have successfully learned what the course has to offer. But if they feel they have not attained their goal, they are always welcomed to re-do the course.

“The ultimate goal is to improve care for people and there are numerous other resources as well. Learners also have the option of participating in discussions with other people taking the same course. As well as having 24-hour access to the course they also have access to peers and not only peers taking the course but also experts in that field. This happens via discussion forums within the course website,” said Stephenson.

Those who take the courses are always welcomed to do follow-up learning via the webinar series that is offered as part of At Your Side so that the knowledge offered by this program is limitless.

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