UBC Healthcare roadshow

Roadshow meant to attract students to a healthcare profession

School stops made along Hwy. 16, Burns Lake being one of them

Students from around the region got a glimpse of what awaits should they choose a career in health care last week thanks to a tour of people already training to be a medical professional.

It’s called the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow, an annual event organized through UBC’s Northern Medical Program, which is run through the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George.

The roadshow visits different locations each year and from May 2 to May 6, there were stops at schools in Burns Lake, the Southside and Francois Lake, Houston, Hazelton and Fraser Lake.

This tour features 12 medical professional students in a wide variety of fields including dental hygiene, dietetics, kinesiology, medical laboratory technology, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, and physical therapy as well as three northern medical program staffers.

Students set up displays, many with a hands-on experience, give talks and answer questions in a setting designed to spark the interest of secondary school students in considering a healthcare career.

Dr. Sean Maurice, a northern medical program instructor, and the lead person involved in organizing the first tour in 2010 after hearing of the idea at a gathering the year before to discuss the lack of healthcare professionals in the north.

“I’m from Vancouver,” said Maurice who came north to Prince George to teach in 2007. “I wanted to work in a smaller community but didn’t know a lot about the crises of healthcare professionals in smaller communities.”

From the start the broad concept is that students from the north who are either trained in the north or who are trained elsewhere will base their careers in the north.

There are no exact statistics kept to test that concept but the important goal of the annual tours is to plant seeds within secondary school students.

“Just talking to students, we hope they are inspired,” said Maurice.

“In smaller communities, students may be familiar with the doctors and nurses in their towns but not perhaps with the many other medical professions,” he added.

Helping that along, in addition to speaking to medical training professionals, is the opportunity to gather information on the practical end of post secondary training such as where and how to apply.

If the roadshows are meant to attract secondary students to healthcare careers, they also have a role to play in regards to the medical professional students who take part in the tours.

That’s because not all of them are from the north and so introducing them to the region might convince them to return once they’ve graduated, said Maurice.

“They say once you’ve seen one small town you’ve seen them all. But you don’t know what they’re really like until you’ve seen them,” he said.

Even students from Prince George may not be familiar with communities stretching west along Hwy16 simply because they’ve never had a reason to visit them before, Maurice added.