CIC - Winter 2020

College Conquering Covid

Now, more than ever, health care workers are needed on the front lines of the Covid pandemic. Doctors and nurses have been working long hours to help their patients. But there are many other workers who have also been providing direct patient care.

These are just a few of the many professions that have been active in the fight against Covid.

Primary Care Paramedics

Primary Care Paramedics (PCPs) are a very important part of the healthcare team. As members of Emergency Medical Services, PCPs are usually sent on-scene to provide basic life support as well as trauma and medical care.

PCPs are trained for the responsibilities of patient assessment, treatment, stabilization and transport.

College course length is usually one to two years.

Primary Care Paramedics earn, on average, approximately $66,000 per year but can go as high as $90,000.

Respiratory Therapist

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, we have been hearing a lot about respiratory therapy and its importance in treating patients with the virus.

Respiratory therapists are responsible for treating diseases and infections related to the cardiopulmonary (heart and lung) system. While Covid is top of mind right now, Respiratory Therapists (RTs) also help treat patients with lung cancer, pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma and emphysema. RTs can also be found in the emergency room where they provide life-saving care to trauma patients. They work with everyone including premature infants with underdeveloped lungs to senior citizens with advanced cardiopulmonary diseases and are responsible for managing life support systems. They also analyze blood samples, perform tests, assess vital signs, oversee rehab activities and assess lung capacity.

Respiratory therapists will find employment in hospital emergency rooms and ICUs, newborn and pediatric intensive care units or pulmonary diagnostics laboratories.

In Canada, the average salary for an RT is around $35 per hour and the course length is two to three years.

Medical Radiological Technologist (X-ray Technician)

Medical Radiological Technologists combine sophisticated technology with direct patient care to produce high quality images while exposing their patients to the lowest dose of radiation possible.

They work in four areas: radiological technology, nuclear medicine, radiation therapy and magnetic resonance imaging. Each discipline requires unique skills and specialized education.

MRTs must have a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathology.

The average salary for an MRT in Canada is around $35 per hour. 

MRTs generally go to college for around two years.

MRI Technologist

MRI Technologists use the magnetic resonance imaging scanner to prepare diagnostic images for the doctor. They must be able to position the patient properly depending on the area to be scanned. They also maintain the imaging equipment. MRI Technologists need to have technical skills and physical strength to operate the equipment.

MRI Technicians usually attend college for two years but most often also need to have their MRT (medical radiation technologist) course or a Bachelorís Degree in a related field first.

On average, MRI Technicians in Canada earn around $70,000 per year. Entry level salaries are about $43,000 a year.  

Lab Technician

Laboratory Technicians are trained in collecting blood and tissue samples from patients. Attention to detail is a must as they will need to log all patient samples. Lab techs also perform routine lab tests and clean and maintain laboratory equipment.

Lab techs are found in hospitals, laboratories, clinics, veterinary laboratories and research labs.

College courses for lab tech students vary in length and usually include such subjects as chemistry, mathematics, laboratory techniques, haematology, microbiology, specimen collection and quality lab management.

 A laboratory technician makes an average of $50,000 per year.

Licensed Practical Nurse

A significant part of frontline health care, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) work alongside other allied health care professionals to observe, assess, monitor and document patient symptoms and progress. They also educate patients on nutrition, medication management, self-care and disease prevention, as well as perform medical procedures and administer medications.

The two-year diploma program is available at colleges throughout the country and graduates will find employment in hospitals, long term care homes, clinics and community health.

The average salary for an LPN is just over $50,000 per year.

Health care aide

A health care aide supports people who can’t manage their own care and may need help with activities of daily living including feeding, mobility, communication and other needs.  They also observe and report on patient conditions. 

Some of the courses covered to obtain a health care aide certificate include gerontology, community health, growth and development, human relations, activities of daily living and more.

The course is usually six months in length.

Health care aides typically work in hospitals, personal care homes, doctorís offices, home care, mental health settings, private care facilities and acute and extended care facilities.

While salaries for health care aides vary throughout the country, the average Canadian health care aide makes about $19 per hour. 

Dietary Aide

Dietary Aide isn’t a career that immediately comes to mind when considering Covid care but a lot of Covid-19 patients are unable to eat. Dietary aides work with nutritionists and dieticians to prepare food for patients with a wide range of health conditions. In addition to preparing meals, Dietary Aides may also help with serving meals. Ensuring that food safety and hygiene procedures are followed is a very important part of being a Dietary Aide.

Courses are usually less than three months in length and cover topics including nutrition, institutional food preparation and service, and sanitation and safety procedures.

Dietary aides earn, on average, around $16 per hour.

There are many other workers involved in patient care during the pandemic who are seldom mentioned but play a large role. The unsung heroes who are the backbone of the hospital like janitors, transport specialists and administrative clerks, just to name a few.

It truly is a team effort in the fight to treat and defeat the country’s most dangerous health threat we’ve faced in generations. 

By Jackie Fritz