A stint as a medical volunteer at Big Valley Jamboree five years ago was all 20-year-old Allyson Wrubleski needed to know she was headed on the right path into medicine.
The Augustana Campus University of Alberta undergraduate spent much of her debut year at the Jamboree practising some of her first aid training with a mentor. That meant a lot of driving a backboard/stretcher-equipped Gator golf cart to patients around the Camrose-area country music festival site. But one particular incident that weekend — an anaphylactic case — determined her future career.
“The patient had eaten something they were allergic to and their airway was closing. The paramedic was pushing medications. I got the oxygen mask on [the patient] as I was instructed to do, and, at the end of it, we got the patient shipped off,” she recalled.
“I expected myself to be frazzled and high stress, but I was so calm the whole time and afterwards. It was a really cool feeling to know, in this chaos, I could maintain a calm head and think through things. That case solidified for me that I have the capacity to lead and manage high-stress situations for the betterment of patient care.”
For Wrubleski, who started her third year of medical school shortly after her fifth Big Valley Jamboree this year, successfully diagnosing a bicep tear and an acromioclavicular (top of the shoulder) joint sprain were highlights at the 2019 festival.
“I expected myself to be frazzled and high stress, but I was so calm the whole time and afterwards. It was a really cool feeling to know, in this chaos, I could maintain a calm head and think through things.”
– Allyson Wrubleski
“We learned last year [in school] how to do a shoulder exam and it worked. This patient [at the Jamboree] had these findings and I successfully diagnosed it.
“That was super exciting to me to see that these two years of med school, as hard and long as they were, paid off. It was a small little check mark.”
Wrubleski enjoys reconnecting with the medical centre team each year at the Jamboree, because of its mix of long-time volunteers and others stepping up for the first time.
“It’s a hoot,” said Wrubleski, of the volunteer-operated main clinic and two satellite clinics on the festival site.
“We’re out there to provide medical care, but we’re also out there to enjoy ourselves to some extent. It’s meant to be a good mixture and (leaders Greg Clarkes and Dr. Chris Nichol) do a really good job of making that happen.
Wrubleski encourages those who have the training and the interest to come on out.
“BVJ [Big Valley Jamboree] definitely shaped the fact that I’m super interested in emergency medicine. I don’t know if I would have considered it beforehand had I not done BVJ.”
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