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Careers in the healing trade

Students from Heritage Collegiate and Southwest Arm Academy travelled to Memorial University's medical school on May 14 to get a hands-on and up close look at careers in the health sciences.

These students from Heritage Collegiate enjoyed Discovery Days at MUN recently. Left to right are: Rebecca Holloway, Alicia Holloway, Chelsea Holloway, Megan Holloway, Lorrie Ralph (teacher) and Jeremy Blundon. 

The students were among over 100 youth who participated in the annual event touted Discovery Days in the Health Sciences.

In addition to the informative talks, the students were offered their choice of two of 11 workshops which included extracting DNA, making lip balm, interviewing a patient, conducting a physical exam and performing surgery on a foam dog named Dasie.

Chelsea Holloway, a Grade 10 student at Heritage Collegiate, said she enjoyed the workshops she attended. It was great, she said, to participate as well as sit and listen.

"In the pharmacy workshop we made lip balm which was really cool. We got to add flavoring and colors. In the family doctor workshop we learned about delivering a baby and about the importance of blood pressure. We learned about asthma and how technology is used in a family practice," the 15-year-old said.

Chelsea said as the day progressed she learned that a career in the health sciences isn't restricted to becoming a doctor or pharmacist.

"Some people have no idea what they are going to do when they go to university. But this helps you see just what the job would be like."

Cody Avery, a Grade 11 student at Southwest Arm Academy, said Discovery Days was a fun experience.

"I really learned a lot... We heard about work ethic and other things that we will need to know," the 17-year-old said.

Cody said after participating in Discovery Days he's leaning towards Memorial for his post-secondary education - and perhaps a career in the health sciences.

"We learned that being a pharmacist isn't just about counting pills. They do so much more. My teacher advisor told us about (Discovery Days) and myself and my friends thought it was a great idea. I came home with a lot more information than I had going in," Cody said.

Heritage Collegiate teacher Lorrie Ralph traveled to St. John's with her students.

Ralph said the workshops are a great opportunity for her students to relate what they are learning in school to a real-life career choice.

"It gives them a lot of motivation to go back and pay attention in their science classes and math classes and English classes because it was emphasized that they'd certainly need what they are learning in these classes (for a career in the health sciences,)" Ralph said.

The day's activities also included a panel discussion titled Health Pros Tell All. The health professionals on the panel talked to the students candidly about their career path.

Ralph said the health professionals on the panel left the students with an important message.

"Just about everyone on the career panel had failed a course along the way or had other difficulties. Everything didn't go perfectly for them on their first attempt. Many of them knew people who tried, several times, to get into medical school before they were accepted," Ralph said.

Jeremy Blundon is a Grade 11 student at Heritage Collegiate. He said the workshops helped him realize how important the subjects he is taking in high school are to whatever career he may pursue.

"You can really see what the courses you are taking can lead into. And I've been thinking about a career in the health sciences so I found this really informative. We all have the common idea that pharmacists distribute pills. But we learned today that they work with doctors to prescribe medications for the patients and they do a lot of other things, too," the 17-year-old said.

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame organizes Discovery in partnership with Memorial's Faculty of Medicine.

Recruiting for medicine

Deborah Ash is administrative officer with the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. Her organization teams up with Canadian universities, hospitals and research centres to introduce youth to a wide variety of career options in medicine and the healthcare field.

"Since 1997, we have introduced more than 24,000 high school students to world-class health clinicians and scientists - a recognized strategy to nurture more Canadian health professionals," Ash said in a release about Discovery Days.

Memorial's Dean of Medicine Dr. James Rourke agrees the workshop are a great way to entice students into medical careers.

"We're confident that exposure to events like Discovery Days will pique a lifelong interest in the health sciences, and many of those attending will pursue careers that help advance practice and research in medicine and other health professions," Rourke said.

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