ATHABASCA – Thirty students from Athabasca and 10 students from Boyle will be learning about potential careers in health care during a “Skills Day” hosted at the Athabasca Regional Multiplex this Thursday, March 23.
The event is effectively a joint effort between the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP), the Aspen View school division and the local Regional Health Care Attraction and Retention Committee, which is itself co-funded between the Town and County of Athabasca, the Village of Boyle and the MD of Opportunity.
As part of this skills day, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., the 40 students will be split into five groups and rotate through various stations set up in the field house at the multiplex.
The stations will focus on topics such as suturing, injections and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Town mayor Robert Balay, who chairs the Regional Health Care Attraction and Retention Committee, said they will actually bring an ambulance into the facility and the corresponding station’s presentation will be about what it is like to respond to an emergency call.
There will also be a panel discussion over lunch involving local health care workers hailing from Athabasca and representing different fields. For instance, they will have a recreational therapist, an occupational therapist, an x-ray and lab specialist and a mental health worker.
During that panel discussion, Balay will be asking the participants questions about their career, where they went to school and why they came to work in a rural setting.
“The whole idea is to give rural kids an opportunity to see what careers there are in health care,” he said.
“We believe it is easier to recruit rural kids back to rural Alberta once they complete their education. So we’re kind of planting the seed.”
This is the first time that the regional committee has put on an event like this, though it is their intention to make it an annual event.
“We could have had more students this time, but for our first kick at the can, we thought we would limit it to 40,” he said.
Balay specified that RHPAP is providing the majority of funding for the day, while Aspen View is taking on the responsibility of transporting the students. The regional committee is taking on whatever remains of the expenses.
Although he is involved in the event as the chair of the regional health care committee, Balay noted the skills day was actually being organized by a sub-committee headed by Aspen View trustee Anne Karczmarczyk.
“We’re very excited to showcase our rural folks in health care, and also (show) kids some of the opportunities they have for their school careers,” Karczmarczyk told trustees during their March 9 meeting.