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Salmon Arm man upgrades to a new career

Okanagan College offered Mike Pogson an opportunity to retrain for a rewarding career in health care at a price he couldn’t refuse.
Pogson, who lives in Salmon Arm, completed nine upgrading courses to qualify for entry into the practical nursing diploma program in 2011. The upgrading courses were tuition-free.
“When I found out I could get the prerequisites to get into the nursing program for free, it made going back to school a much more affordable option,” he says.
Okanagan College’s Foundation programs offer tuition-free upgrading in a variety of subjects including biology, chemistry, computer studies, English, mathematics and social studies, as well preparation for the General Education Development (GED) high-school equivalency test and B.C. Adult Graduation Diploma.
In 2011, Pogson was working in the residential construction industry as a finish carpenter but the market crashed and the jobs had started to dry up. That’s when he decided to go back to school.
“With the population aging practical nurses are in high demand and I knew the work would suit my personality,” he says.
Not long after Pogson graduated with his Practical Nursing diploma and passed his licensing exam, he landed a job as a licensed Practical Nurse at Mount Ida Mews, a 72-bed complex care community located in Salmon Arm.
“I love what I do now,” says Pogson. “Working with seniors is so rewarding. It was worth the time it took to go back to school.”
“So many people don’t have the prerequisites to enter the programs they want and think that’s the end to their career dreams,” says Dan Chetner, Instructor and Adult Basic Education coordinator at Okanagan College.
“When they discover they can upgrade at the College, a whole new world of possibilities open up to them,” he says. “We get students coming from all situations: those who had difficulty in high school, those who didn’t take the credits they need to get into the program they now want to do, and those who want to retool their existing careers.”
“My experience with Okanagan College’s Foundation program was so positive,” says Pogson. “The instructors were great because they got to know me, cared about what my goals were and supported me while I worked toward those goals.”
“We hear a lot about the coming skills shortage and many people may feel the opportunity is closed to them because they don’t have the prerequisites to access the education or training that will open the door to the career they want to pursue. The upgrading programs we offer may be a solution to that dilemma,” says Chetner.
It’s not too late to apply for classes starting in September. To find out more visit