Three additional intakes added due to high demand

By Taylor Toews

RRC is training students and health care professionals to swab for COVID-19 to decrease wait times at testing facilities./TAYLOR TOEWS

Red River College has added three additional intakes to its COVID-19 testing course to train students and health care professionals to perform COVID-19 nasal swab tests.

RRC made the announcement in conjunction with the Manitoba government after a high demand of applicants and a waitlist of at least 120 students filled the first three intakes in early October.

Minister of Health Cameron Friesen said the key to improving access to COVID-19 testing and reducing wait times for Manitobans is increasing testing capacity, which includes training more healthcare professionals to do the job. 

With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, some health care students are looking to lend a helping hand.

“I know how overwhelmed staff must be at testing sites, and I wanted to help with that,” said Alicia Nazimek, a second year nursing student at RRC.

The additional intakes will allow RRC to train more than 180 students and health care professionals to safely perform COVID-19 nasopharyngeal sample collections at testing sites.

Nazimek, who is currently registered to take the five-hour course at the end of November, said this course doesn’t come as a surprise to her as she’s seen firsthand how the college prepares students with practical skills.

The tuition-free course, which has been extended to run from Nov. 9 until Nov. 27, is available to health care students in at least their second year of training and to a variety of other eligible health care professionals like registered nurses, health care aides and pharmacists.

RRC is offering the course through a blend of online and in-lab learning.

Katerina Lekkas was admitted into the first round of courses and aims to begin work at a testing site as soon as possible.

“My friends tried to sign up two days later, but it was full,” said Lekkas, a third-year nursing student at RRC.

Lekkas said she had already learned the majority of material while in school. The course stressed the importance of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and hand sanitation while working with potential COVID-19 cases, she said.

RRC and the provincial government also have plans underway to offer the course to certain areas of rural Manitoba in addition to Winnipeg.