Perinatal Support Worker FAQ

What does this program cover?

The Perinatal Support Worker program covers the period of a newborn's life from conception through the first year. The program covers support for low and high risk women (social as well as medical). It includes working with the disability community. No other support program offers such a comprehensive curriculum.


When will classes be held?

Please visit the Course Schedule tab on the program page for class dates.

What is the role of a Perinatal Support Worker (PNSW)?

The PNSW will be able to:

  • Act as an advocate for the women and families they support
  • Create the most appropriate and personalized emotional, educational and physical support for mother, baby and family
  • Work in collaboration with other members of a woman's health care team
  • Deliver perinatal education to new and expecting parents

How is a PNSW different from a doula?

A PNSW is a graduate from an academic program. A PNSW is educated and trained to facilitate the educational, emotional and physical support requirements of their clients. This support begins in pregnancy, through birth and extends into the first year of infancy. A traditional support person does not require any education or training.

What are the program admission requirements? How do I apply?

  • Refer to the Admission & Registration tab on the PNSW program page
  • If you aren't sure if you qualify, contact OPSWA to see if you are eligible to be a member. You need to qualify to be a member of OPSWA to qualify for this program
  • Please note: You do not need to register as a member with OPSWA until you are working with a family/completing your practicum

Can I take this program even though I do not have experience in this field?

You are not required to have experience working in pregnancy, labour, birth, or newborns. Experience would help you in the program, but is not a prerequisite.

Can I still work while taking the PNSW course? Or while completing the practicum portion of the PNSW course?

Yes, the class portion of the program is offered as evening sessions. Those currently employed can continue to work while taking the PNSW course. The practicum hours can be completed during off-work time. It is expected that you will have your practicum completed within a confirmed time frame.

What is required for the independent study component of the program?

Independent learning includes a variety of activities including:

  • Required readings
  • Class projects
  • Presentation preparation
  • Research and writing papers

What is required for the practicum portion of the program?

After the academic portion of the program students are must complete 500 hours of practicum. The practicum is comprised of:

  • 200 hours of labour support
  • 200 hours of post-partum support
  • 50 breastfeeding-support hours
  • 50 other hours

Practicum positions are available in Hamilton, the GTA, and we can work with you in your area.

Is there a final exam?

Yes. Upon successful completion of the academic and practicum portion of the program the student will be eligible to write the PNSW exam.

Are there any required textbooks?

  • Everything will be provided to you and is included in your fees. You do not need to buy textbooks
  • You will need to buy a stethoscope if you don’t already have one
  • If you would like to teach childbirth education, you need to buy a childbirth educator. But the kit is not essential for this program

Where could a PNSW be able to get employment? What is the career outlook?

Depending on your own career choices, you may find work as an independent service provider or with an existing agency. Perinatal Support Workers may be able to find employment in:

  • Birthing clinics
  • Hospitals
  • In-home
  • Home care clinics
  • Doctors’ clinics
  • Breastfeeding clinics
  • Parenting education facilities
  • Private businesses
  • Agencies

The career outlook is fantastic – there is high demand for PNSWs.

Can you explain the delivery of this program in detail?

  • Approximately 102 live hours done via Zoom platform with educators

  • 26 pre-taped learning hours

  • 50 hours of independent curriculum

  • You will also be responsible for readings, research & assignments

After applying to the program, when will I know whether I have been accepted?

Admittance to the program will be provided on a rolling basis. Please ensure you apply early and register after receiving acceptance. You will not have a reserved seat in the program until you have registered.

How do I register?

Acceptance in the program does not mean you are registered yet. You will need to register for the course. Visit the Program of Studies tab on the program page to register. Or visit registration for more information.

How are fees paid? How much are course fees?

  • Students must pay the course fees in full at the time of registration
  • Registration will be open until the official start date of the course
  • Spots in the course are on a first-come basis
  • Total cost is approximately $3,000 plus HST

Is there financial assistance available?

There are financial assistance options for Continuing Education students such as OSAP and bursaries. Please note, not all programs qualify for OSAP assistance. For more information, please visit Financial Assistance.

What if I am being sponsored or a third party is paying for my course fees?

For help with the third-party sponsorship process:

Contact: cereg [at]
They need proof/verification of your sponsorship.

To reserve a spot in the program:

  • Course fees need to be paid in full at the time of registration
  • Or a confirmation of a sponsorship must be submitted