How do you support a rural high school student in their journey to become a rural health-care provider? Well, it takes a community.
In the Crowsnest Pass, it took the efforts of a local family physician, a school district off-site career coordinator, and a health centre site manager along with an RhPAP stipend and Alberta Health Services (AHS) coordination to create a unique summer mentorship experience.
Dr. Allan Garbutt, Crowsnest Pass family physician, was instrumental in developing RhPAP’s medical student-rural physician mentorship program to expose first-year students to rural practice.
So it was a natural transition to expand this mentorship program to a local high school student.
The result of this team effort was a six-week work experience for Hailey Grove, a Grade 11 student at Livingstone School in Lundbreck. Hailey spent this period shadowing various health-care providers at the Crowsnest Pass Health Centre in Blairmore.
She shadowed staff across the rural health centre, spending time in volunteer services, long-term care, X-ray, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and non-clinical services among other departments. She also attended rounds and followed the nursing program preceptor and nursing students in their on-site training.
Another notable experience was in Recreation Therapy, where Hailey attended a community pool weight-lifting class.
When asked what she enjoyed most, Hailey responded, “I liked the Lab and the [Emergency Department] the most, as I was able to do a lot of things.”
For Hailey, working at the local hospital runs in family. Her mom, Latisha, is a medical lab assistant, and her grandmother, Wendy Francis, was an operating room nurse for 24 years. According to Latisha, the Pincher Creek High School Skills Day, hosted by the Pincher Creek Health Professions Attraction and Retention Society and RhPAP, also helped to pique her daughter’s interest in a health career.
“Hailey enjoyed the suturing station so much that she came home and practised with the suturing material they had on the farm,” she recalled.
Sarah MacDonald, Talent Acquisitions Student and Youth Engagement Coordinator, AHS, helps build relationships between post-secondary educational institutions and organizations such as RhPAP at High School Skills Days and Post-Secondary Skills Weekends at AHS sites.
She says this project came about quickly.
“It was an easy win to support a local youth to expose her to rural health-care careers,” added MacDonald.
John Taylor, Livingstone Range School District off-site career coordinator, assisted Hailey in setting up the summer mentorship to receive work experience credits. John was also instrumental in coordinating the regional high school students to attend the High School Skills Day in Pincher Creek.
He is very supportive of learning opportunities that help students discover and support their career path.
“It is always amazing for me to see our school division partnering with other agencies to provide such worthwhile experiences for our youth,” Taylor added. “Hailey took full advantage of this opportunity to sharpen her knowledge and skills as she prepares for a career in health care. Many thanks to everyone that made this happen!”
Another source of support was Crowsnest Pass Health Centre site manager, Liz Cook, who developed the six-week program for Hailey. RhPAP is hoping to learn from Liz, and the other stakeholders in this mentorship experience to support possible future opportunities.
So, what’s next for Hailey?
She is starting Grade 12 and will be taking an anatomy and physiology dual credit course through Bow Valley College alongside her other courses this year and plans to apply to nursing programs for next year.
We support rural students’ health-care career pathways and wish Hailey all the best in her rural health-care career journey!