Students offered firsthand experience in health care field
The real deal
Story by Kirsten Goruk; photo by Rebecca Lai
It’s not every day that a high school student gets an all access pass to what goes on in a hospital, which is what makes the Careers: The Next Generation (CNG) program so special.
The Alberta Health Services (AHS) program is available throughout the province and offers grade 11 and 12 students the chance to spend six weeks of their summer working full time in their area of interest. Participation varies; 250-280 students have taken part in past years and students earn school credit and an honorarium while doing so.
As Tammy Syrnyk, Senior Advisor for Talent Acquisition and Student Engagement with HR explains, the CNG program offers students something different and potentially life-changing.
“Its purpose is to engage youth and let them explore opportunities up close and personal within the health system,” she says.
“It’s also meant to broaden their perception of what is available beyond the traditional health careers that they might think of, say a doctor or a nurse. We like to stretch them beyond that into all aspects of health care.”
Katelyn Crapeau, 16, just entered Grade 12 at Father Mercredi High School in Fort McMurray. She spent a good portion of her summer on the third floor of the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) learning about the medicine department.
“The experience is one to remember and it affected me in the best way possible. Honestly, before I did the program, I didn’t know for sure if I wanted to be a nurse; I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not and that’s why this program was so perfect. I know now that I do want to pursue a career in nursing,” Katelyn says.
Some of the highlights of her placement include spending one-on-one time getting to know some of the long-term care residents and going on a medevac trip with a patient to Edmonton.
Cathy Payne, Manager of Medicine at NLRHC, really enjoyed the opportunity to oversee Katelyn’s placement.
“It was so exciting to see her learn and be excited about our medical professions. You see it through a fresh pair of eyes. I could really see the growth in her by the end of the summer,” Payne says.
Payne says that given the chance, she would take on another student and Syrnyk explains that her enthusiasm for mentorship is exactly what keeps the CNG program alive.
“It brings such value to engaging youth. I’m very thankful for the mentors who support these students during the summer. They go above and beyond and I think that’s important to note. Without them, we couldn’t offer the program,” Syrnyk says.
Katelyn too is thankful for the involvement of each staff member at NLRHC. As she takes on her last year of high school, she knows the impact of the program will continue to influence her and she hopes other students will take the time to participate as well.
“I would definitely recommend it to other students,” she says.
“You get to see what it’s really like, and not just by seeing it, you work alongside the staff. You can’t get that from a book or being in a classroom. It’s real life.”