Inspiring rural B.C. high school students to pursue healthcare careers
As part of the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow, UBC learners travelled across rural B.C. to showcase careers in healthcare to the next generation.
Throughout the months of April and May, UBC Faculty of Medicine learners joined the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow (the Roadshow) on a province-wide tour of high schools across B.C. to inspire more rural youth to pursue careers in healthcare.
Launched in 2010 by Dr. Sean Maurice, Assistant Dean for UBC’s Northern Medical Program (NMP) at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and his team, the grassroots project is now a provincial initiative delivered in partnership with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, UNBC, the Northern Medical Programs Trust, Interior Health and the Rural Education Action Plan.
Each year, teams of post-secondary healthcare learners from a variety of universities and colleges across the province join the Roadshow to highlight the many rewarding careers in health. This year learners joined from a wide range of health disciplines, including medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, healthcare administration, registered massage therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, dental hygiene, respiratory therapy, medical laboratory science and diagnostic medical sonography.
Together, the post-secondary learners presented hands-on demonstrations and answered questions about their chosen career paths, helping spark a passion for healthcare amongst rural high school students. For Dr. Maurice, the learning goes two ways.
“Not only do we strive to put healthcare careers into the minds of rural youth, but we want to ignite a passion for rural practice in the minds of our current healthcare learners and foster interdisciplinary connections,” said Dr. Maurice, who is also an assistant professor with the NMP. “All together it’s an important way to encourage more doctors and health professionals to practice in rural B.C. and to address the inequities in healthcare that we see in rural and Indigenous communities.”
Since its inception, the Roadshow has connected with more than 13,500 high school students as part of 79 community visits across B.C. More than 240 post-secondary healthcare learners, representing nearly 25 different healthcare careers have participated.
This year, as part of a tour through northern B.C., the Roadshow teams travelled to Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Lillooet, Ashcroft, Bella Coola, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel.
“I enjoyed being able to teach young high school students about what occupational therapy (OT) is,” said Ivneet Lidder, a first-year graduate student in UBC’s Master of Occupational Therapy program in the North. “Often people don’t know what an OT does, so it was great being able to spread that education to young students in communities here in the North.”
During the Roadshow in Bella Coola and the Cariboo, UBC medical students Joel O’Brien and Ranjeet Shukla from the NMP gave high school students an introduction to a career in medicine and demonstrated cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and intubation, which is used to help restore a patient’s breathing.
The Roadshow team also visited health facilities across the North to meet with health professionals and learn more about the benefits and challenges of rural practice and the diverse healthcare needs of the communities they visited.
For Kailey Lund, a graduate student in UBC’s Master of Physical Therapy Program in the North, the experience left a lasting impression.
Master of Physical Therapy – North
“I loved connecting with other healthcare students and learning about their professions, as well as interacting with community members and practitioners who reside in rural communities,” she said. “It was truly amazing to see the cultural integration and interprofessional collaboration that has been created in these communities.”
The Roadshow also brought a team of post-secondary healthcare students to the Thompson Region of B.C., where the group presented to high schools in Lillooet and Chase.
Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science
“I found the experience of sharing my field with prospective youth to be incredibly rewarding,” said Brian Martin, a third-year student in UBC’s Bachelor of Medical Laboratory Science program. “It was phenomenal to spend time and develop friendships with an interprofessional group of future healthcare professionals in the rural communities that we visited.”
Though a planned presentation in Ashcroft was cancelled due to flooding in Cache Creek, the Roadshow team stopped and helped bag sand to support members of the community before ending their trip in Kamloops.
“When I witnessed the community facing devastation, I felt incredibly sad for the people fighting to protect their homes, businesses and community spaces,” said Anna Slang, a UBC medical student from the Southern Medical Program (SMP). “Sharing some of our time to help put together sand bags was really the least we could do. It was neat seeing how eager the whole Roadshow team was to jump in and help. The people of Cache Creek taught us a lesson in resilience that day.”
With the success of this year’s Roadshow, the initiative aims to hit the road next spring to visit even more rural communities across B.C.
“This initiative has grown from a small pilot project into a significant provincial initiative to address the rural health workforce,” said Dr. Maurice. “We are really excited to continue bringing this program to more and more rural communities for years to come.”
Led by the UBC NMP, and in collaboration with the UBC SMP, the Roadshow is delivered in partnership with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, UNBC, the Northern Medical Programs Trust, Interior Health and the Rural Education Action Plan. The initiative’s founding partners are the College of New Caledonia and the District of Clearwater.
Published: June 12, 2023