A diverse group of university students from across BC and Canada recently spent a week in rural BC to inspire high school students to pursue future careers in healthcare.
“The healthcare travelling roadshow is designed to help address rural healthcare shortages by reaching out to high school students,” says Leah Trippell, a first-year Southern Medical Program student at UBC Okanagan. “At the same time we provide education about the breadth of careers available and what type of careers are needed in rural communities.”
Nine students representing UBC medicine, midwifery and pharmacy along with licensed practical nursing (Vancouver Island University), respiratory therapy (Thompson Rivers University), and optometry (University of Waterloo) participated in this year’s week-long trek to Grand Forks, Trail and Nelson.
The roadshow is an eye-opening experience for countless high school students, who discovered that thumbs have pulses, and babies turn during birth. Many are surprised to learn about the existence of midwives and respiratory therapists and the scope of practice each profession represents.
In total, more than 600 students from Grand Forks Secondary School, JL Crowe secondary in Trail, and LV Rogers secondary in Nelson participated in the travelling exhibition.
“The roadshow was a fantastic experience for our students,” says Helen Argue, Student Services and Career Prep Coordinator at Grand Forks secondary. “The greatest testimony came from the students who thought it ‘would be a waste of time because they weren’t going to be doctors.’ After the session, these same students were raving about the presentation and the hands-on activities.”
As part of the trip, the university students had an opportunity to explore each community, tour local healthcare facilities to speak with rural practitioners, and connect with local mayors and councils.
“It was amazing to spend time becoming familiar with some of the communities in rural BC,” adds Trippell. “Each community welcomed us with open arms and was so excited to show us what makes their city unique and to highlight the benefits of living in smaller communities where the work-life balance is an appealing part of the lifestyle.”
The healthcare travelling roadshow was conceived and developed by Dr. Sean Maurice at the Northern Medical Program, based at the University of Northern BC. The provincial initiative is sustained by support from the Northern Medical Programs Trust, Rural Education Action Plan, Interior Health and UBC Southern Medical Program.
The program has grown to include three regional trips this year including Kootenay (Grand Forks, Trail, Nelson), Cariboo (Quesnel, Williams Lake, 100 Mile House) and Robson (McBride, Valemount, Clearwater and Barriere). Since its inception, the roadshow has connected with more than 7,000 teenagers in 32 communities throughout BC.