Health Care Aide career provides purpose
The pandemic hit Miranda Kleemola like a tidal wave leaving her overwhelmed with loss, but through a process of self-discovery the Medicine Hat College (MHC) graduate was able to rebuild her life.
“I have a degree in childcare and worked in the industry for 20 years. When the pandemic happened, I lost my job and my marriage. My whole identity changed. I felt like I was going through a crisis, I didn’t know who I was. My heart was no longer in childcare, but I knew I needed to be in the compassion industry,” recalls Miranda.
Equipped with a checklist, she searched for a short-term program available in Medicine Hat that offered hands-on learning and guaranteed employment. She also needed the ability to work part-time and care for her kids while attending school. She was able to check all those boxes, and more, with MHC’s Health Care Aide (HCA) program.
Anxious about returning to school as a mature learner, it was important to Miranda to prove to herself and her daughters that she could achieve her goals and change the trajectory of their lives.
“I was the second oldest in my program. Some of the girls in my class could have been my kid, but I had to prove to myself I could do it. Show my girls that you’re never too old to go back to school. I was determined to make it work, but I was scared,” admits Miranda.
As part of the program, students spend 11 weeks on clinical and it was through this experience that Miranda found a support system.
“I connected with my clinical advisor on a mature level. She was there on my first day of clinical, my first time working in a facility. She was there when my grandpa died, and then five weeks later when I lost an uncle very close to me. She saw me through every step of the way. She saw what I was good at, and what I needed to improve on. She believed in me, pushed me outside my comfort zone, and helped me get to where I am today.”
Although it seemed at the time that loss was becoming a fixture in her life, Miranda reframed the narrative and saw a bigger purpose for her and her new career.
“When I lost my grandpa, it made me realize so many things. Our seniors are valuable and as a health care aide, I can help them maintain their dignity and enhance their quality of life. I can’t extend their life, but I can make whatever time they have left more comfortable and enjoyable. Who wouldn’t want to do that for someone?”
While careers as an HCA can vary from private and community care to long-term facilities and hospital settings, Miranda eventually settled on long-term care and works at Good Samaritan South Ridge Village.
Attracted to the hustle of the workplace, Miranda says eight-hour shifts can be a blur of activity with her responsibilities ranging from helping with personal hygiene and preparing residents for the day to taking them to activities and interacting with their families.
“Health care aides are the ones that families and administration know. We are the people nursing relies on, as we are closest to the residents. We see them more accurately for who they are, beyond just their medical condition, because we spend the most time with them.”
For those considering a meaningful career that helps others, Miranda is confident in recommending health care aide.
“It’s doable, [the HCA program] is a one-year commitment, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a job when you graduate. The workload is hard, but if you commit yourself, you can do it, and financially there’s support available.”
interested in a similar career? check out