A recent event in Pincher Creek proved beneficial for both local students and health-care professionals.
About 30 enthusiastic high school students received hands-on medical instruction during the Regional Rural High School Health-care Careers Exploration Day at the Pincher Creek Health Centre on April 12.
Hosted by the new Pincher Creek Health Professions Attraction and Retention Committee, and sponsored by the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP), the goal of the day was to expose students to health care in a rural environment. Local health professionals introduced participants to the broad range of skills that health providers in rural communities are expected to use every day, including ultrasound, suturing, EMS practices, and respiratory therapy.
The research shows that individuals from rural backgrounds are more likely to return to rural areas – Dr. Scott MacLeod
Resident physician Dr. Scott MacLeod grew up in High River and knows the benefits of attracting rural students to health-care careers first hand.
“The research shows that individuals from rural backgrounds are more likely to return to rural areas,” said Dr. MacLeod. “So doing days like today is important to help bolster those rural physicians and other health-care professionals in the future.”
During the event, students were introduced to future mentors and potential career opportunities in rural Alberta. AHS Indigenous Health Liaison, Tawnya Crowshoe, and Recreation Therapist, Lora Schultz, were present to talk to students about other health career options and the Spirit of Art and Reconciliation (SOAR) Program. Maddison Shortreed, AHS Volunteer Coordinator, was on hand to discuss volunteer and mentorship opportunities for students.
The day was a success, bringing in students from Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass, Lundbreck, and Fort MacLeod high schools, including Nicole Kirkness, a Grade 10 student from Matthew Halton High School. Kirkness’s mother is a nurse, and she has always had an interest in being a physician. Despite her familiarity with the medical field, the instructors and skills stations surprised her.
“I’ve definitely been opened up to new opportunities and stuff that I can take,” said Kirkness. “I’ve never had a hands-on experience like that before.”
I always hated hospitals and needles, but I think it’s kind of changed now that I’ve taken this [session] – Brittany Munt
She is thinking of pursuing rural health-care jobs in the future and encourages her peers to take advantage of a future careers exploration day.
“There’s definitely a lot of things that go on in the hospital, and a lot of jobs that you can go on to and paths you can take, so I definitely recommend it to my friends,” said Kirkness.
Crowsnest Consolidated High School Grade 11 student Brittany Munt said the day helped her get over some fears.
“I always hated hospitals and needles, but I think it’s kind of changed now that I’ve taken this [session],” she said, noting she wants to be an anesthesiologist.
For Dr. MacLeod, the day was rewarding and reminded him of why he was drawn to the broad rural scope of practice. He also appreciated the opportunity to work with local high school students.
“High school students are awesome,” said Dr. MacLeod. “[They] ask great questions, [and have] great enthusiasm. [I] hope they learned a few things and enjoyed the day as well.”
Fellow resident physician, Dr. Michelle Crook, is an energetic teacher who imparted knowledge at the suturing station. Just three months away from becoming a family doctor, she shared her passion for her chosen career path.
“There’s so many things you can do in health care,” said Dr. Crook. “It’s always challenging… you’re always learning, and it’s super fun.”
RhPAP Health Skills Events, including Skills Days and Skills Weekends for high school and post-secondary students, are sponsored by the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) and are scheduled in rural Alberta communities throughout the year by the RhPAP Rural Community Consultant Team.