Setting a new course in modern health care

Patient Navigators graduate from new program at Cambrian

Shreya Deshpande has graduated from the Navigator program at Cambrian College. LEN GILLIS / Northern Ontario Medical Journal













A woman from India has just graduated in one of the newest programs in health care education in Ontario. She’s hoping it will result in a promising health career in Sudbury.

Shreya Deshpande is one of the first graduates in the Community and Health Services Navigation course at Cambrian College in Sudbury.

A health care “navigator” is a person who will work with patients in the health care system to navigate their way through the complex social services and medical organizations one has to deal with.

Deshpande said she chose the course at Cambrian because it was one of the few such programs that accepted students from all healthcare backgrounds.

“I did my Bachelor’s in Homoeopathic medicine in India. I needed a post graduate course which leads to an upward curve in my career as well as accept my undergraduate degree as it is not a very common undergraduate degree internationally,” said Deshpande.

She said she also liked having a diverse group of people with medical backgrounds in the course, such as physicians, nurses and pharmacists and others with backgrounds in such areas as microbiology, bio-technology and gerontology.

“Having a diverse environment with domestic and international students with different educational backgrounds was a great experience,” said Deshpande.

Cambrian also made the learning experience easier she said because of its in-house HyFlex learning program, which allows students to learn outside the traditional classroom setting.

“It enabled us to view live lectures online from home or to view lecture recordings later, although I attended most of the lectures in class this was surely helpful when I was sick and wanted to learn from home,” said Deshpande.

She added that guest lectures from people who had real-life difficulties added to the authenticity of the learning.

“I feel that was the best part of my learning experience as it gave me a closer look and a peek into reality of the stigma and difficulties faced by people with mental health disorders. As a worker this was vital and it helped me understand the other side of the story and what it really feels like. It changed my thoughts and my approach towards my clients significantly.”

Deshpande also said there were some challenges for her in coming to Northern Ontario, such as adjusting to Canadian winter, learning the social mores of Canadian students and even getting used to Canadian food. All in all, she said, the program is worthwhile.

“I feel if you are a regulated professional, this program can certainly be a good upgrade to have especially if you are a nurse or a social worker. The demand for navigation jobs is increasing due to the complexity of the Canadian healthcare system and it would be beneficial for the clients to have support and direction while seeking help.”

Professor Melanie Lefebvre, the program coordinator for the CHSN course, said the health care system recognizes the need for navigators.

“Navigation has always been of value. People in the helping profession may not have an official title as a navigator but still do the valuable work, perhaps as a social worker or a case manager,” said Lefebvre.

“But there now seems to be increased recognition and more intentional dialogue of the importance a navigator in ensuring quality of care. Services are often fragmented and individuals looking for support can be bounced around from one professional to another.”

Lefebvre said the CHSN program will gives students the knowledge to guide patients through the struggles and challenges that can arise to get the best result.

“CHSN students participate in a simulated patient experience to empathize with the frustrations and roadblocks first hand, thus developing a heightened appreciation of the need for their particular skill set. They learn to be a guide during another person’s time of need, using a person-centered approach so as to support but also empower the people they work with,” she said.

Deshpande said she was pleased with her career choice at Cambrian and advised future students on how to work towards success.

“My advice for the younger students would be never stop upgrading yourself, keep building your resume and work on being the best version of yourself. In terms of career choices, I would always advice having a regulated degree/diploma as it makes employment easier. Studying something out of the box or an upcoming field can be challenging however gauge the scope and be confident in your skills.

Filed in: Education, Featured

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