Nearly 50 Sundre High School students recently had the opportunity to learn more about what pursuing a path in a medical career is all about.
In recognition of Nursing Appreciation Week, the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP) teamed up with the Sundre Healthcare Professionals Attraction and Retention Committee in partnership with Alberta Health Services to host a nursing skills event for grades 9-12 at the Sundre Hospital and Care Centre on May 8.
"It's the first time we've held an event that specifically promotes nursing to high school students, so it's a bit of a landmark for us," Jonathan Koch, director communications and marketing for RPAP told the Round Up.
Local as well as visiting health-care professionals at the hospital introduced the students to the broad range of skills nurses in rural communities are expected to use every day, including suturing, starting an IV, and giving an injection.
"It influenced me a lot," said Grade 10 student Kate Amos during an interview with the Round Up at the local high school.
"I thought it was a really good experience for people who are kind of interested in the medical side of career options ó to get that extra bit of experience to know what it feels like to work in a hospital."
Since she was a little girl, Amos has felt a desire to become a doctor to help people. Although she went through a phase of considering other potential careers ó as many young people tend to do on their path of self-discovery ó she said the past year has found her once again pondering the possibility of becoming a registered nurse.
After graduation, the student aspires to study at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
"It's on the higher end of medical schools," she said.
Also keen to embark on a career in health care, Grade 10 student Naomi Pearce said although she's not sure what speciality she wants to pursue, the skills event convinced her that she's going in the right direction.
"I'm hoping to job shadow a bit," she told the Round Up.
"That might help me with deciding which specialty (to follow), because there are many different areas in the medical field."
Another student who appreciated the opportunity presented by the skills event was Kayleigh Wolfe.
"I do want to go into nursing when I graduate, and I also want to be a doctor, so it was a nice way to kind of get an insight into it and figure out if that's something that I for sure want to do."
Initially having reservations about procedures such as IVs, the Grade 11 student said being introduced to the experience helped to put any doubts to rest.
"It totally made me definitely confident that I want to do this when I graduate," she said.
"It was a really amazing opportunity and I hope we can do this again next year."
Wolfe is considering applying to several post-secondary institutions such as Red Deer College, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University or perhaps the University of Alberta.
The retention committee's chair, Heidi Overguard, said nurses represent an invaluable asset to Sundre and the surrounding area.
"This event provides an opportunity to showcase their skills, and to thank them for their outstanding service to the community," she said.
"As Sundre wants to grow its own nursing staff in the future, we want these students to know that throughout their nurse training and after graduation, they will be welcomed back here for practicums, and to pursue a career."
Lisa Wilson, the Sundre High School's guidance counsellor and inclusive education coordinator, called the event a real "eye-opener" for the students, who were actively involved throughout the entire day. The event was not about simply sitting back and listening, she told the Round Up.
"The students got the opportunity to actually try skills that would be within the hospital setting," said Wilson.
"It was excellent ó I can't say enough good things about the day. It would be great to have more opportunities like that!"