NorQuest celebrates the success new education model after first graduating class

June 20, 2024
NorQuest celebrates the success new education model after first graduating class

NorQuest College has launched a new education model that is helping reduce barriers, by bringing the classroom to students. The mobile health lab is currently set up in Castor, Alberta, and provides an opportunity for students in surrounding communities to complete their education close to home, eliminating the need to travel to NorQuest’s Edmonton or Wetaskiwin campuses. 

“This mobile lab gives students the opportunities to live in their town, work in their town, and be with their families while also completing their education and earning their certification,” says Sonia Khangura, Associate Chair of NorQuest’s Health Care Aide program, and one of the mobile health lab instructors.

NorQuest is using the lab, which was built inside a mobile trailer and looks like a continuing care setting, to host its Health Care Aide program. In June, the college celebrated the mobile lab’s first graduating class with a mini convocation ceremony for six health care aide students.

“There was a lot of learning,” says Khangura. “I’m so used to Edmonton and its health care system…but rural settings are different, so we did have to learn and adjust along the way. We ended up tailoring some of our material to help prepare students for working in rural communities.”

Different protocols and supplies, staffing limitations, and delayed EMS response times are just some of the differences between health care in major cities versus rural settings. Khangura says it’s common to have to wait 45 minutes for emergency services to arrive, and many of the staff working in health care settings know their clients personally.

“That can create a difficult situation,” she says. “It’s our job as instructors to give them the skills to be able to navigate those situations and be as prepared as possible when heading back to work.”

Due to recent regulatory changes in the Health Care Aide profession, many of the students in June’s graduating class are already working in the industry but required a certification to be eligible for pay increases or to change jobs. Khangura says this new education model, where students complete their theory classes online and their labs in person in Castor, allowed some students to continue working while completing their certification.

“Right now, we are only offering the Health Care Aide certificate…but the lab was designed to be a flexible space so there are a lot of opportunities of how we can use this space in the future.”

That includes the possibility of NorQuest offering a practical nursing program to help people complete their nursing education in rural communities and continue supporting their communities by filing vacant positions.

Media contact:

Sarah Reid
Media Relations Consultant
NorQuest College