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UNBC’s travelling healthcare roadshow aims to inspire next generation of medical professionals

Healthcare team visiting Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Stewart, Dease Lake and Hazelton this week ( May 13-17)

Dr. Sean Maurice, assistant dean with the UBC Northern Medical Program at UNBC, is leading a Healthcare Travelling Roadshow in northern B.C. this week.

The roadshow, aimed at addressing rural healthcare workforce shortages, has brought together a team of nine healthcare professionals to visit schools and communities in Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Stewart, Hazelton, and Dease Lake.

They are focusing on inspiring Grade 10 students to consider careers in healthcare, Dr. Maurice told Black Press Media from Smithers on Wednesday. “We want to showcase the diverse opportunities available in the [medical] field.”

Simultaneously, the accompanying healthcare professionals are given a glimpse of what rural life and practice could be like.

The roadshow, which originated as a grassroots initiative at UNBC in 2010, is supported by various institutions including UNBC, UBC Faculty of Medicine, the Northern Medical Programs Trust, and the Rural Education Action Plan (REAP).

Dr. Maurice said the roadshow is not a recruitment initiative as much as a seed-planting initiative. It aims to accomplish three main objectives: sparking interest among rural youth for healthcare careers, encouraging healthcare students to explore rural practice opportunities, and facilitating inter-professional interactions to showcase the breadth of healthcare disciplines available and foster camaraderie among future professionals, he said.

The roadshow itinerary includes presentations to secondary school students in the mornings, followed by community engagements and activities in the afternoons.

The team was in Fort St. James and Vanderhoof on May 13. In Fort St. James, the session began with a formal introduction before transitioning to table presentations, where youth participation shone through with an array of questions and eager experimentation.

“When we got to the table presentations, the youth were very engaged and asked a lot of questions and wanted to try things,” Maurice said, adding, a highlight of the event was the demonstration by a respiratory therapist, showcasing innovative intubation technology.

The visit concluded with an early lunch at the school, followed by a presentation detailing the construction progress of the new Stuart Lake Hospital.

In Vanderhoof, they visited the sturgeon hatchery, took a leisurely stroll through the park, and shared a meal with community members.

“We try to give them some taste of rural communities, meet some people, do some things, so they can imagine what it could be like to live and work there,” Dr. Maurice said.

Dr. Maurice and his team will be in Stuart Lake on May 15. Following that, they will proceed to Dease Lake for a morning presentation on May 16, then return to Hazleton for a presentation on May 17, finally concluding the roadshow and heading back to Prince George.

About the Author: Binny Paul

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