Carla Booth profile

Carla Booth

A hairdresser by trade, Carla Booth did a major career about-face with support from Contact North | Contact Nord.

“Contact North sat with me and said, ‘What’s your life like? What can you take on?’ That was so important.”

Online Learning Centre
St. Catharines, Ontario

Area of Study
Personal Support Worker

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Starting over after raising kids: A brand-new career

A hairstylist by trade, Carla Booth began working with Contact North | Contact Nord in the early days of the pandemic.

She’d stayed home after having two kids, and although hair was still her passion, it wasn’t conducive to her life anymore.

Carla was ready for something new, and set her sights on nursing.

“Contact North sat with me and said, ‘What’s your life like? What can you take on?’ That was so important,” she recalls. “It’s good that I had somebody to guide me in the sense of, ‘Is this going to work for me in my life right now? That’s huge.

“It was invigorating to go back to school after all these years and try to become something else. I really enjoy it.”

“Originally, I took medical terminology, medical admin, some of the free courses they connected me to.”

With support from staff at our online learning centre in the Niagara region, Carla discovered a different route to her ultimate goal — to become a registered practical nurse — and signed up for the accelerated personal support worker (PSW) course at Niagara College.

“This was a great pathway,” Carla says. “I’m glad I did it this way to get a better understanding of the career itself — all the different levels and steps to what I’m becoming.

“It was invigorating to go back to school after all these years and try to become something else. I really enjoy it.”

Shouldering the same intense workload as a regular PSW program but in a condensed time frame, Carla graduated with a good understanding of the healthcare sector and got a job offer right away.

“They’re really letting PSWs take on a larger scope of practice to free up the nurses and RPNs,” Carla says. “We do have a lot of training in vitals and all those things. I’m seeing all the levels of care. For me it’s a good place to start and to work my way up the ladder.”

Carla’s advice for other adults returning to school after a lengthy absence is to lean on others who are experiencing the same journey.

“The best thing is to use your support system,” she says. “It’s going to seem hard and intimidating but you can do it. I met a great group of women and men and we all boosted each other every day. They’re going through the same struggles you are and it was nice to have that support system with the people I went to school with as well as with Contact North.”