Health careers on the minds of local students

Dr. Benny Lee talks human anatomy with North Peace Secondary School students at the Healthcare Traveling Roadshow June 10.

They’re only in Grade 10, but Lorenzo Petrucci and Wesley Phan are already thinking about job security.

Like many of their peers, the pair are well aware they could easily pursue a career in the oil and gas industries, the building blocks of their city and its continuing lifeblood, but it’s the mechanics of the human body that bring a career to their minds.

“Somebody is always getting hurt, somebody is always going to be sick and so if (you’re a) doctor, you’re always going to have a job,” said Petrucci, 16.

The North Peace Secondary School students were just two of 500 local students that took in the Healthcare Traveling Roadshow, which wrapped up three days of presentations in Fort St. John this week.

The roadshow was a chance for the students to rub shoulders with a host medical students and professionals to learn about more than a dozen, in-demand jobs in the health care industry.

“We have the chance to learn about the experience of people who are going to medical school,” said Phan, also 16.

“I learned there’s quite a few programs to get accepted for, and then transfer to medical school.”

Medical students from across the province took part in the roadshow to speak with students and give them some hands-on experience about their studies and work, with disciplines including medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, dentistry, medical lab technologies, biomedical engineering, and midwifery.

Students had a chance to work with skeletons, microscopes, bacterial plates, and other equipment the roadshow brought along.

Phan already knows he wants to be an opthamologist — “Eyes have always appealed to me,” he said,” — whereas Petrucci has settled on a career practicing medicine.

“I want to start by becoming an all around doctor, but eventually what I want to find out is what I want to specialize in,” said Petrucci.

“So, here I am at this roadshow discovering what would be good to do.”

That’s music to the ears of Sean Maurice, a senior lab instructor for the Northern Medical Program out of the University of Northern BC, which is spearheading the roadshow.

“The goal right now is to get students thinking about what they could do (in healthcare),” Maurice said, adding that he hopes the roadshow will spark students to begin having conversations with a career counsellor.

“If we can get them to think about these as real options, then the follow up questions might be, ‘OK, what courses do I need, how well do I need to do in those courses?

“If we can inspire them to have a reason to try to do well, they may do that.”

The show first hit the road in 2010 following Rural Health Workforce Symposium held the year prior in Prince George. It aims to get rural students interested in medicine and health as a way to help boost the number of health professionals working in rural areas, where recruitment and retention is an ongoing struggle.

The university has since visited hundreds of students in communities across northern BC, including Clearwater, Fort Nelson and Kitimat.

The roadshow travels to Dawson Creek on June 11, and Tumbler Ridge on June 12.