With a focus on inspiring the next generation of healthcare professionals, the Healthcare Travelling Roadshow is visiting rural communities across BC and the Yukon.
The roadshow was in Nechako Valley Secondary School in Vanderhoof on Wed, May 15 and in Fort St. James on May 17. The man responsible for the roadshow is Dr Sean Maurice, senior lab instructor, Northern Medical Program based at the UNBC. He said the idea behind the project is to address the shortage of the rural workforce.
“We know that physicians, nurses, physiotherapists and others are fewer. There are less of them in rural communities than there are in urban centres. And there are people in rural communities who need access to care as well,” he said.
At each high school the group visits, students representing medicine, nursing, physical therapy, midwifery, pharmacy, dental hygiene, X-ray, Med lab science and midwifery present hands-on demonstrations and answer questions about their chosen careers.
The roadshow is a provincial initiative with trips taking place annually across B.C. This year marks an exciting addition to the itinerary with the introduction of a Vancouver Island-based trip.
“The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow was born at University of Northern BC a decade ago. It has grown from a small pilot project into a significant provincial initiative to address the rural healthcare workforce,” said Maurice said.
The team responsible for the roadshow collaborates with different provincial partners to run this project. In 2019, they are running four different week-long trips that will involve 50 healthcare students visit over 2,000 youth in several rural communuties, stated a May 14 media release.
”We strive to put healthcare careers into the minds of rural youth, and put rural practice into the minds of healthcare students,” Maurice added.
Martin Muermann, first-year Northern Medical Program who was at the Vanderhoof event said that there are times where students get intimidated by science. And through the roadshow presenters are forming relationships with students in rural communities to assist in debunking some fears, he said.
“When I was younger, I didn’t think I would get into health care. Thought you have to be really smart to get into that. Later in life, however, when I looked at it, I realized I could be good at it…. There is so much in healthcare like nursing, medicine, midwifery. So much diversity in the field which is great to choose from,” Muermann said.
Apart from engaging school students across communities, Maurice said another aim of the roadshow is to introduce the healthcare students to rural community living.
“Healthcare students get to see the communities and see what hospitals are like here. They take a tour of the community and understand health care requirements. So it goes both ways,” he said.
The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow was conceived at UNBC as a grass roots initiative to address rural healthcare workforce shortages. The provincial initiative has grown to include four regional trips, stated the media release.
Since its inception in 2010, the roadshow has connected with more than 8,500 high school students in 43 communities throughout BC.
The Healthcare Travelling Roadshow is delivered in partnership with the University of Northern BC, UBC Faculty of Medicine, Northern Medical Programs Trust, Rural Education Action Plan, Interior Health, and Vancouver Island Health.