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UNBC's Healthcare Travelling Roadshow makes a stop at NPSS

UNBC and UBC trainees visit school to answer questions from students about training and professions

Students at North Peace Secondary were given a taste on Tuesday of what it might be like to work in the health care field.

The University of Northern BC, behind a project it's aptly named The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow.

First started in 2010, it began as a single trip to Clearwater, but has now grown to include a number of community stops in the north.

Similar to a speed dating scenario, students spent 10 minutes at each of the seven of the tables set up, getting a quick overview of the profession by students already enrolled at either UNBC or the University of BC.

The seven disciplines: medical doctor, nursing, pharmacist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, dental hygienist, and midwifery.

The roadshow is the brainchild of Dr. Sean Maurice, a faculty member of the university's Northern Medical Program.

“We're trying to inspire rural youth to consider health care careers because we know they're more likely to go back to rural communities and be comfortable there if we get them into training,” says Maurice.

“Even if they were born or went to university in Prince George, they may not necessarily know what Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, or Kitimat are like. So, we want to give them a chance to see the community, meet the high school students, see the hospitals, and do something fun all at the same time.”

Future physiotherapist Jonathan Chow is a perfect example of that.

He's a first-year student in the UBC Master of Physical Therapy - North program at the UNBC campus in Prince George; the course taught through both video conferencing and 'hands on' clinical sessions component.

From Vanderhoof, Chow was already in the area before this particular stop, training in his fourth week of a five-week placement at the Fort St. John hospital.

For him, manning a display table and speaking to students about the profession he's training for has come full circle.

“What I love about his roadshow is bringing awareness to students that were about my age, Grade 10, 11, 12, because that's how I learned about it.”

Students were also able to see some of 'tools of the trade' that might be used; in the case of physiotherapy, a reflex hammer used on the elbow or knee to test reflexes or a dynamometer, used to test someone's grip strength.

For Chow, one of the leading benefits in becoming a physiotherapist, when he completes his two-year Masters at this time next year, is personal interaction with the client.

“That's a big part of why I would like to do this is help people going through tough times, difficult times.”

Like a medical doctor or trained medical professional, Chow points out, physiotherapists need to know a lot about the body.

Before their masters, students are required to complete an undergraduate degree in a field like biology, chemistry, or in Chow's case, kinesiology.

“There are also three areas that a physiotherapist can specialize in – musculoskeletal, which are your bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and connective tissues, neuro which covers the brain and spinal cord. So, for example, someone who may have had a stroke. And cardio, the heart and lungs.”

To have such training close to home, either at its Fort St. John or Prince George campus is key to UNBC, but it's equally welcomed by School District 60.

“It's extremely important because we all know just how much we need to try and recruit people to come to our region for all the various health service positions, says SD60 superintendent of schools Stephen Petrucci, in recognizing the efforts of projects like this. “What we've found whether it's for health positions or teaching, if they're local and they know the community, the likelihood of them staying and plugging back in, and becoming part of the community is much higher.”

The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow will meet with high school students in Dawson Creek Thursday, before moving on to Tumbler Ridge Friday.

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