When Anya Garcia Sadler first came to Capilano University, she had aspirations of entering the field of health and medicine—but she wasn’t sure how to get there.

“Since a young age, I knew that I wanted to be in medicine in some way, shape or form,” Anya says. “But to be honest, I never thought I’d become a care aid. I didn’t even know that job existed until I went to Cap.”

Unsure if she wanted to take the leap into the industry, Anya enrolled in general studies for one year. As she began to gravitate towards the health sciences, she realized this was a passion she couldn’t ignore. 

But it was at a course fair that she stumbled across the brochure that made all the difference. On the front it said, “Health Care Assistant.”

“I read it, and [thought], ‘Wow, this sounds like something I could do!’” 

Her enthusiasm reignited, Anya applied to Cap’s Health Care Assistant program right after that—and got in.

An empathetic touch

From day one, she knew it was the right fit. As Anya settled into the program, two instructors inspired her to excel: Carol Tanner, Registered Nurse (RN), program coordinator and instructor, as well as Nadja Neubauer, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and instructor.

“They were both absolutely amazing,” Anya says. “They were just so passionate about the people that they interacted with and took care of.  It was inspiring.”

One of the most impactful lessons Anya learned over the seven-month intensive program was how to exercise empathy when working with clients. Health care assistants mainly provide care for the elderly, either in a facility or at home. Anya had the opportunity to apply those new skills first at Evergreen House in Lion’s Gate Hospital as part of the program’s practicum, always remembering Carol and Nadja’s advice.

“[They taught us] that we’re there to help other people and treat them like we would love to be treated if we were in that situation,” she says.

Learning on the ground

A mere three days after graduation, Anya was hired as a health care assistant at Proof of Care, an independent custom elder care provider in West Vancouver. Now, just over a year later, she applies those classroom lessons daily. And she hasn’t stopped learning.

“I still learn things all the time—from either my co-workers or nurses that are on the floor,” Anya says. “Even from my clients or the residents that I’m working with.”

Whether helping clients get ready in the morning, preparing meals, or administering medication, Anya has honed her time management skills—something she struggled with during the program.

“I grew a lot as a person,” Anya says. “Time is such a big issue, especially if you’re working in a facility because you have a certain amount of time and you need to get everything done. But you also have to juggle doing it in a caring way.”

There is no such thing as a typical work day in Anya’s world. She usually works nine hours a day, six  days a week, but that can vary depending on the client and location—Anya splits her time between Proof of Care, where she sees clients in their homes, and Hollyburn House, a retirement living home in West Vancouver.

“I feel like I’ve gained so much from [my clients],” Anya says. “Nadja would always say, ‘It’s like filling your bucket.’ And this job fills your bucket. It’s a fulfilling job. It really is.” ”

A positive outlook

Out of all of the clients that she cares for, one in particular has filled Anya’s bucket recently: a woman with severe arthritis who has lost most of her mobility. Even though it’s difficult for her to do basic daily activities, she continues to push through. 

“She tries so hard all the time,” Anya says. “And it amazes me because she’s embarrassed. It’s hard for her to go out in public like this. But despite that pain, she has a positive outlook.”

That woman is not the only one. Anya cites several clients that have changed her perspective on life for the better.

“There’s a lot of them who have shown me to be happy with what I have right now because I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” she says. “It’s just their outlook on life that really teaches you to, you know, not complain about how you didn’t get your coffee in the morning.”

Respected in her field

With her strong sense of compassion and dedication, it’s no wonder that Anya was named Caregiver of the Month in May by her co-workers at Proof of Care.

And Carol couldn’t be more proud that Anya is well on her career path. No matter the class, Anya always worked hard and was admired by the instructors for her strong sense of self, yet remained a team player.

“She’s well-respected in her job,” Carol says. “We’re very proud of her.”

Anya credits her teamwork skills to Health Care Assistant program’s small class sizes. Even with their busy work schedules, Anya’s tight-knit cohort still keeps in touch—and they even end up employed in the same workplaces.

“We have been told by employers that they seek out Capilano grads when they are hiring health care assistants,” Carol says. “And it’s a common stepping stone for nursing.”

Anya is determined to continue her lifelong dream of becoming a registered nurse.

“I would love to be a nurse,” she says with a smile. “I will get there eventually.”

Submitted by Marketing & Communications

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Interested in finding out more about the Health Care Assistant program? Attend their info meeting on July 7th! You can register here.

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