Student Spotlight: Elaine Bridges | Assiniboine Community College
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Student Spotlight: Elaine Bridges

Student Spotlight: Elaine Bridges

Written On: 24 April, 2015
Category: College Life Health Care Student Spotlight
Related programs:  Comprehensive Health Care Aide MSHS - Integrated Comprehensive Health Care Aide

At 54, Elaine Bridges had worked in retail positions all her life. Although she’s an outgoing and caring person who long wanted a career caring for people, possibly counselling, she just wasn’t sure where to begin.

Elaine Bridges is graduating this year from the Comprehensive Health Care Aide program at Assiniboine Community College. The six-month certificate program starts every September and is offered at both the Victoria Avenue East campus in Brandon and the Parkland campus in Dauphin. The college also offers a related Integrated Health Care Aide program, starting in January.

At 54, Elaine Bridges had worked in retail positions all her life. Although she’s an outgoing and caring person who long wanted a career caring for people, possibly counselling, she just wasn’t sure where to begin.

After 11 years with the same company there was a change in management and her position was eliminated. Right then and there, she decided that this was the opportunity for her to pursue a career in caring.

First, she needed to complete her high school so she enrolled at ACC’s Adult Collegiate to get her Mature Student High School diploma. She says it was challenging being a 54-year-old mature student but she loved every moment of it.


1. How did you find out about ACC’s Comprehensive Health Care Aide program?

I completed my MSHS and went to Employment Manitoba for career counselling. The questionnaire I filled out confirmed what I’ve always felt in my heart, that I should pursue a career caring for people. I thoroughly enjoyed the ACCAC experience and I was hoping that ACC offered a suitable program that would interest me. When I read the Comprehensive Health Care Aide program description I knew what I wanted to do. 


2. What was it about the CHCA program that appealed to you?

It was a perfect fit for me. This is who I am. This program gives me the training I’ll need to care for people, to assist them in their daily lives, to help them maintain their independence. To be a difference in their lives. Some people are so sad or so lonely when they lose their independence and are reliant on others for even the simplest tasks. You can make a big difference in someone’s life just by being there for them.


3. What do you enjoy most about the program? 

We’re very much a team in the classroom. We help each other, we rely on each other, we’re there for each other. And my classmates have what I call ‘good hearts’. They care as much as I do, so that’s a great environment to learn in.


4. ACC embraces a ‘Learn By Doing’ philosophy. How did ‘Learn By Doing’ apply to you in CHCA?

First off, our lab is set up as an actual hospital room, so we’re learning in a real-world environment. There’s also a good deal of patient role-playing involved in the learning process. For example, we take turns spending a full day in a wheel chair to experience mobility difficulties. The simplest things that we take for granted, like going to the bathroom, are real challenges. It really helps you identify with your patient’s needs.


5. Tell me about your instructors, their approach to teaching or how they taught. If they shared their own work experiences, are they working in the field themselves?

The training is so thorough, so detailed. We’re being prepared for the real world by people who have been there. We have two work practicums that we need to complete before we can graduate, and our training is so thorough that on day one of my first practicum I was mistaken for a student completing the senior practicum. That’s how well-prepared we are.


6. Is there one moment within the program that stands out for you?

I almost quit. Some of my patient experiences were very emotional for me and I had difficulties not showing that, so I was doubting if I could be effective in caring for people in a professional manner. My instructor told me that caring is natural, and that comforting and consoling is so much a part of what we do that I knew then and there that I was meant to be where I am doing what I’m doing. I’m following my dream, and my dream is coming true.


7. What advice do you have for prospective CHCA students? 

If you’re a caring person, if you enjoy caring for people, then this is 100% the right program for you. If you have a caring heart you can be an advocate, you can make a difference in someone’s life. I’m still in school, but every day I get paid in smiles by my patients. There’s nothing better than that.


9. What type of career opportunities exist for CHCAs? 

Tons. There aren’t enough of us out there, we’re so needed. In this area alone you can work in all types of clinics, at the hospital, retirement homes, personal home care, even the jail. We’re just so needed.


10. You graduate July 17. What’s the next step in your journey?

I’d love to work in the hospital, simply because there are so many areas where Health Care Aides are required, but I’ll be happy working wherever I’m needed. 

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