VCH recruitment advisor, Margaret Shaikh helped the students in attendance understand the wide range of opportunities that exist for them as a part of the VCH team both in Bella Bella and other VCH communities.
Most of us remember when we first heard about a type of job that sparked our interest, maybe even got us dreaming “I wonder if I could become a….?”
Whether it was astronaut or zookeeper (or something in between), the most important thing was that spark was lit and you could actually imagine yourself being that professional.
It’s this same spark that Dr. Lauri-Ann Shearer, medical director for R.W. Large Hospital and Bella Bella Medical Clinic, and Rhonda Orobko, Bella Bella coordinator for the Divisions of Family Practice, were hoping to create when they approached several partners in their community about holding a first-ever Bella Bella Health Care Career Fair.
After a few months of collaboration and planning with the Hailika’as Heiltsuk Health Centre Society, First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and VCH staff – supported by Facility Engagement and Rural and Remote Divisions of Family Practice – Lauri-Ann and her partners found themselves in front of 20-plus interested high school students (grade 10-12) from their 1,200-person community, each one with their own questions about health care careers.
“We want youth to know what their options in health care are,” says Lauri-Ann. “Most of them didn’t know that health care was even a possibility in one of the many types of careers beyond a nurse or physician. From lab techs to pharmacy assistants to cooks, we opened their eyes to what’s available.”
With a wide range of displays from the FNHA to the Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) to the Heiltsuk Maternal Child Health Program, the fair was set up to give a comprehensive view of the wide range of health care careers that Bella Bella youth could aim for.
Local Heiltsuk leader and community Elders advocate, Carrie Easterbrook, MSW, delivered the opening address, setting the stage for the other speakers and underlining the importance of post-secondary education to career hopes of First Nations students.
“It’s important to have Heiltsuk people share their stories about their educational journey and about their roles in health care,” Carrie says. “I definitely felt this event opened windows of opportunity for our youth to explore the health career field. As I was observing body language and conversations after, I believe this kind of event needs to continue to happen.”
“The seed has been planted and as health care professionals we need to continue to engage and encourage our youth. Today’s Heiltsuk youth career decisions will directly impact the overall wellness of our community’s future. Our future will thrive if we continue to nurture and foster the importance of education!"
Photo: FNHA community health practice consultant, Sam Noizadan, and FNHA Central Coast community engagement coordinator, Bonnie Cahoose, were happy to bring students up to speed on the types of careers available now and in the years to come as part of the FNHA team.
With more than 50 per cent of the students polled afterwards indicating they would consider a job in the health care field in Bella Bella, early results show that the presentations made an impact on the students, with some following up to ask to job shadow and for more information. Feedback from the school and other partners involved showed strong interest in making this a regular event for the students.
For those Bella Bella students wanting to pursue a career in health care, their options are slowly growing with the potential to study via distance education or other online methods as well as the traditional route of leaving the community for post-secondary studies