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Hayley Gibson, a Grade 11 student from Dauphin, takes part in an acupuncture demonstration with workshop presenter Roland Lavallée.

Discovery Days helps inspire students to explore different health career paths

November 15, 2018 — 

According to third-year medical student Linda Lam, finding your career path can be a little like driving through Winnipeg’s infamous Confusion Corner.

“It’s rightly named confusion corner because there’s a lot of side streets, a lot of turns and if you end up in the wrong lane you’re going to go in the complete opposite direction that you wanted to go in the first place,” said Lam, a keynote speaker at Discovery Days, an event for high school students interested in careers in health.

“I think to find what your passion is, you need to try lots of different things, even things that you might not be that interested in at all,” she added. “It’s worthwhile to give yourself the chance to fall in love with something.”

When Lam was in high school, she attended Discovery Days, an annual event co-hosted by the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. The day gives students the opportunity take part in interactive workshops and get a clear picture of what it’s like to be a health professional. More than 330 Grade 11 and 12 high school students from 86 schools across Winnipeg and around the province – some from as far as Churchill – took part in this year’s event on Nov. 9.

Kim Sefton, who often teaches skills to second- and third-year nursing students, was one of several students who lent her skills to teach the visiting students. In a workshop about intramuscular injections, students used a model arm to practice their first injection and then moved on to a female manikin and her baby.

“I love to learn from faculty, new nurses and students. Hearing from young students who are thinking of going into nursing and learning what their thoughts or hesitations are about nursing school,” said Sefton. “Getting the word out about nursing is another reason I volunteer, it’s not just giving someone a pill, it’s actually fun.”

Eleventh grade student Nicole Blagden from Miami School in rural Manitoba said practicing the injections was her favourite part of the workshop.

“My mom is a nurse and my sister was diagnosed with germ cell cancer so I’ve always thought it was important to know how to care for people,” Blagden said. “I might want to go into health care but I’m keeping my options open for now.”

Students learned about more than administering injections. They also learned how to fit a patient with an ostomy bag. After accessing and prepping the skin, students cut out the opening for a bag and attached it to the model abdomen. The bags were then filled with a mixture of mashed potatoes and chocolate pudding to simulate what it would be like handling a real ostomy bag for the next group.

Workshops were also held on disciplines such as occupational therapy and physical therapy. Students interested in occupational therapy learned about the challenges people with physical and mental disabilities face, how to safely move around in wheelchairs and how to make meals with one hand.

Hayley Gibson, a Grade 11 student from Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School attended a workshop where students were introduced to the different facets of a career in physical therapy. This included a demonstration on acupuncture, in which students inserted needles into the arm of presenter Roland Lavallée, chair of admissions for the physical therapy department.

“It was pretty cool to stick a needle in his arm,” said Gibson, who was drawn to the physical therapy workshop because of her interest in a career in athletic therapy. “I liked coming here and learning things. Now I’m getting more of a general look at what physical therapy is instead of just the sports side of it. You see everything from helping animals to helping elders, which is kind of cool to see.”

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