The Real Definition of a Personal Support Worker

I’m a recent graduate in the PSW program, I had many up’s and down’s in the program. Truthfully, I never wanted to do the PSW program but I realized that since I want to become a nurse someday it’d be smart to take a year to learn and follow the footsteps on what a “certified” PSW does for the community and thankfully I made the right decision. Clinical was an amazing component of the program, we got to go into an institutional and a community based setting. It was in the institutional setting where I realized that I loved what I was doing. I’d wake up every morning wanting to go back to bed ( who doesn’t ?) but once I walked through the doors on my floor every morning, seeing the smiles on my residents faces was like winning a million dollars. As a student we are assigned with a preceptor and boy was I fortunate to have my preceptor. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have completed my clinical. My preceptor was a hard working woman, she loved her residents and staff but I could see something was bothering her. She felt that what she did was just something that life allowed her to stop and do, due to events that allowed her to struggle and not complete what she wanted to be, a registered nurse. I’ll never forget what she told me one day, “Sweetie, don’t make the same mistake I made, don’t stay as a PSW. PSW’s are Personal S**t Workers/Cleaners”. I was shocked when she said that and I remember feeling very offended but not by her comment, I felt offended for her, the other staff and of course myself.

The stigma of a PSW is always that it is a “low paying, changing diaper” job but it’s not. It’s not a job, it’s a career. Where would we be in the health care field without Personal Support Workers? Nowhere. If it wasn’t for us PSW’s to help assess our clients/residents/patients how would the nurses or doctors know what’s really going on? Sure, nurses and doctors are treated with more respect because they’re assigned to a “college” but guess what? As a new comer in the PSW field, I don’t need a college to assign my passion, a passion in which we bond with our clients and make sure they have the best care ever.

So, to all my PSW veterans, the PSW rookies and to the soon to be PSW’s, don’t allow the stereotypes to bring you down, we are very important in the health care world. We are at the bottom of it yes, but remember we are the foundation, without us there would be no qualified health care. And to my preceptor, I thank you and dedicate this to you.

  • Maria Grazia Cipollone ; PSW graduate (George Brown College, 2011 )