There’s more to Drumheller than just dinosaurs, and that’s exactly what nursing students from three Alberta college campuses discovered when they travelled to the community to participate in a health-care skills weekend.
The skills event, sponsored by the Rural Health Professions Action Plan, the Drumheller Standing Committee on Health (DSCH), the Drumheller & District Chamber of Commerce, and Alberta Health Services, introduced students to a variety of skills in the local hospital as well as the broader community of Drumheller.
Participants experience health care in a rural environment, and learn basic health provider skills, working side by side with local nurses who volunteer their time to instruct students in skills such as IVs, casting, and intubation.
“I always find it fun to have students [here], just being able to teach them tips and tricks to make them successful,” shares Tara Burns, a registered nurse at the Drumheller Health Care Centre (DHCC). “I feel like I’m here for anyone else to be successful.”
Tara Cooper, a fourth-year nursing student at Medicine Hat College, explains that students were able to receive hands–on experience trying skills she and her fellow students hadn’t yet learned in their studies.
“Now, we’re just further ahead, and have way better experience and knowledge going in as a new [nursing] grad,” Cooper added.
Registered nurse and event instructor, Laura Hansen, describes the wide scope of rural nursing.
“On a given day, I could work [emergency room], get called into a delivery, and then come down to long–term care to help start an IV and hold a palliative care patient’s hand,” Hansen explains. “All in one eight-hour shift.”
I would absolutely recommend this [experience] to friends, and classmates, and program directors all across Alberta. It was a beautiful experience, I feel totally spoiled.
– Erica Terris
For many students, it’s this diversity of rural nursing that attracts them to a career outside of the urban setting.
“I think the draw factor of working in rural health would be that you get to use a lot of your skills on a daily basis,” says Erica Terris, a second–year licensed practical nurse (LPN) student at Medicine Hat College’s Brooks Campus.
The weekend, however, wasn’t only about health care, and students aren’t the only ones who benefit from these types of skills events. Hospitals and communities get to show off what they have to offer and how exciting living and working in a rural community can be.
From checking out the town’s nightlife, to touring some of the area’s most scenic sites, and even creating customized bath salts, the students had the opportunity to see all that Drumheller has to offer, and learn why it’s a community they’ll want to come back to.
“We could see the smiles on their faces, the laughter, and the funny photos,” says Bob Sheddy, a volunteer and organizer with the DSCH. “[So] we think we’ll have a waiting list in future years, because it was such a fun event.”
And what did students think?
“I would absolutely recommend this [experience] to friends, and classmates, and program directors all across Alberta. It was a beautiful experience, I feel totally spoiled,” shares Terris.
“If we could do [this] every year, for all students, you would have better grads and [a better] knowledge base going into being a nurse, especially for students who want to work in a rural community,” Cooper concluded.