MHC's two new programs in Brooks proving popular
Cindy Slenders was appointed the Medicine Hat College's director of the Brooks Campus and regional stewardship in July 2016.
Since then, Slenders has watched the County of Newell suffer through some bad economic times which has in effect altered the direction of programming to the campus. According to the MHC website. "the campus has almost 300 full and parttime students each semester, enrolled in courses."
The Brooks Campus director says the college is still popular within the city of 14,000.
While the nursing program has its annual full slate of students and the adult basic education is also quite popular, Slenders and the diligent management team in Brooks and Medicine Hat proactively sought out and forged new opportunities: social work diploma and a health care aide certificate.
"The community is squarely behind it," explains Slenders as the completely full enrolment in the new course can attest. "Plus, from my dialogue with people informally and formally, people hold the college in high regard."
She adds that students admire MHC with having an emphasis on having hands-on workplace experience as "part of the learning journey."
"Theoretical background is fine, but when you are focused on the trades, social work, nursing the Medicine Hat College and the community want a hands-on approach," says Slenders who says they have teamed up with some local organizations.
"Working on the front line helps correct any 'misinformation (about the job)’ right there for the student," adds Slenders. "This makes you a really invaluable employee."
The two-year diploma social work program is filled right up. This social work diploma can be credit towards a Bachelor of Professional Arts (Human Services) from Athabasca University or the University of Calgary's Bachelor of Social Work degree. The MHC program is in accordance with the Alberta College of Social Work.
Due to a lack of petroleum-based jobs — although it's making a slight comeback now — the interest for traditionally popular programs like some of the trades including welding just wasn't there. Popularity nor were the internship possibilities as petroleumbased companies either shut down or wouldn't take any internships.
After some hard work with local college administration, a lot of open dialogue with local officials, representatives and the public as well as working through the organizational hurdles and protocol with the provincial government, the Brooks campus set up the two new courses. Slender says it takes a long time to set such programs up anywhere from 24 to 36 month to develop a program.
Slenders says they have a full slate of students because it is set up in such a way as anyone can take it, even employed adults.
"It's tailor-made for those (full-time) people as the classes go Friday and Saturday," explains Slenders. "Through that format, it appeals to that genre of students...obtain workplace credentials without stop working.
More mature students have more idea of an idea of what they wan to do because they are getting into new careers and want to do something meaningful. According to Stats Canada in Alberta, health care aides are in demand as the baby boomers start to head for retirement homes.
Besides those two, there are more possibilities of new courses including renewable resource sector. Continuing Studies remains popular as well. Slenders says the community as a whole has supported them well. Coupled with some renovations, the Brooks campus is doing well.
"We appreciate the work with the public and the reiteration to make us aware of what they want so we can address those needs," notes Slenders.