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New micro-certification in patient care teaches valuable skills amidst pandemic

When a team from Ontario Tech University (Ontario Tech) and Durham Region’s Lakeridge Health developed a micro-certification for patient care, they had no idea how invaluable it would be when a pandemic hit the region. 

Fiona McArthur, who handles strategic projects at Ontario Tech, and Sarah Stokes, a faculty development officer, partnered with Durham Region’s Lakeridge Health as part of eCampusOntario’s first round of micro-certification pilots, where they pitched a credential centered on safe patient transfer. Safe patient transfer is a term that describes the moving of a patient – from a stretcher to a hospital bed, for example – in a way that maximizes safety for both patients and caregivers. It’s a specific skill that’s required to work in many healthcare settings – such as long-term care homes – but isn’t a mandatory part of education in all postsecondary health science programs. 

Throughout 2019 and 2020, the team at Ontario Tech and Lakeridge Health developed the micro-certification with the support of eCampusOntario. They combined existing training material with insight from subject matter experts working in the field and were guided by a framework that eCampusOntario had shaped through its Micro-certification Working Group. 

When COVID-19 hit and additional staff members were deployed to the healthcare field, Lakeridge Health suddenly found the micro-certification invaluable. All new staff responsible for patient care were required to complete the  micro-certification programming. Not only did this ensure anyone caring for patients was trained in a specific, imperative skill, but it meant the training was standardized and had been vetted for quality. 

Though there had been an in-person component to the micro-certification training, the team was able to adapt it to a virtual model, so both incoming Lakeridge staff and graduating students could complete the requirements from home.  

Other programs have shown interest in offering the micro-certification to their students as well, says Sarah. “What’s interesting is that it’s being viewed already as a way to deliver training to different healthcare groups, such as paramedics,” she says. “And those partnerships happened because we talked to them and discovered there was a real need for certain skills training.” 

The Safe Patient Transfer micro-certification was so successful that Ontario Tech and Lakeridge Health are building on it. They’ve joined eCampusOntario’s second round of pilots and will be  creating a stackable micro-certification called Interprofessional Practice in Healthcare on Care and Safety, which they plan to pilot at a long term care facility. 

“There are so many skills like that that have professional standards associated with them and they’re transferable across so many healthcare disciplines,” says Fiona. “This makes it easy to make that training available.” 

To learn more about current micro-certification pilots eCampusOntario is supporting, click here