Dr. Kearney students learn about health care careers

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Students at Dr. Kearney Middle School were told of the variety of health care careers available in the industry on Friday morning.

About 50 students gathered in the school’s art room to watch a presentation put on by Byron Stewart, recruitment and retention ambassador for Northern Health, as part of the health authority’s efforts to grow recruitment locally.

Students heard from guest speaker Neil Evans, inpatient manager at the Fort St. John Hospital and former Dr. Kearney student, about his journey into the health care field and the benefits and opportunities for those working in rural health care settings.

Evans stressed the importance of having strong grades and how that can significantly cut back on the amount of post-secondary education needed to enter the industry.

“When I got to junior high here in Fort St. John, I was one of these kids that I had the smarts, but I had so many distractions. I was one of these guys and barely got out of here with the grades I did and then [went] onto high school with very, very low grades,” Evans said.

Evans told students that to get into school to become a registered nurse, he had to take two years of night school, which he added, was not “as cool as it sounds.”

He said his wish for the presentation is that it will get youth in the community talking about pursuing a career in health care.

“[I hope that] getting that conversation going amongst their peers really encourages them to consider health care in their future. Not only because of the opportunities that are out there but because there’s an ongoing need for it.”

“There is a whole world of different nurses out there. As I mentioned in some of the slides in the presentation, they’re all over the world. Every corner of the world. Anywhere where a person might get sick or injured, you’re going to find a nurse.”

Some of Evans’ examples shown to students were nursing positions on cruise ships, travel resorts and amusement parks.

Attendees also heard about volunteer opportunities available in the community from the volunteer coordinator with Northern Health, Machiel Mostert.

Mostert said kids who are 15 years old and up can sign up to be a volunteer.

“We have opportunities currently available in our long-term care facilities and in some select hospital settings as well.”

He said the biggest need for volunteers is in long-term care facilities because those residents have been more isolated due to the pandemic. He adds that the opportunity also gives youth more exposure to the health care settings.

“Even though they don’t have any hands-on patient care experience, they do witness some of the medical procedures that take place,” Mostert said.

“Maybe they see a nurse taking some blood or administering that medication or whatever that clinical task may be, and they get a feel of what it would be like working in that environment.”

After the presentation, students were given handouts that listed the different types of jobs in the health authority, the education requirements for those jobs, and the average salaries that could be expected from those positions.

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