The future of medicine: ETHP hosts high-school students for Health Professions Week

Students sitting in circle watching health professionals speak

Students participate in a Health Professions Week event at MGH, which included a demonstration of how hospital teams respond to a patient in cardiac or respiratory arrest.    

Grade 10 student Jerone Arristan plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine.

So when he received the opportunity to participate in a special event at Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) this past March Break, where he could learn more about the healthcare system in his community, he was thrilled.

“I was excited to speak with healthcare professionals and other providers to see how they move within and outside the hospital,” Jerone says.

On March 15 and 16, Jerone joined 50 other high-school students from East Toronto at MGH, where they met and heard from a diverse array of healthcare providers, including physicians, nurses, anaesthesiologists, dietitians, radiologists, occupational therapists, social workers, pathologists and more.

Student standing wearing mask

Jerone Arristan, a student at Francis Linerman Catholic High School.

The providers came from MGH, South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC), South East Toronto Family Health Team (SETFHT) and VHA Home HealthCare. All of these organizations are members of East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP), the Ontario Health Team serving East Toronto.

Ontario Health and the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health were also partners in the event, which was held in recognition of Health Professions Week.

The goal of this initiative was to introduce high-school students from underserved communities to a wider range of healthcare careers while creating in-person opportunities for learning in a healthcare environment.

Students participated in various activities and saw firsthand how different professionals collaborate across the health system – from hospitals to home care to community care.

“I learned what the work environment is like, who different providers work with and the hours they typically work. I also learned it’s possible to make friends throughout this journey!” Jerone says.

Teaching the next generation

Student wearing mask

Katelyn Mae Gonzales, a student at St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School.

Grade 12 student Katelyn Mae Gonzales also gained valuable insight from the event.

Katelyn will soon begin her post-secondary studies to become a nurse, so she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about how nurses work within hospital and community settings and to see what her future may look like.

“I was curious to know how nurses balance their work and personal lives, especially because a majority of them work long shifts,” Katelyn says.

One of the nurses that Katelyn and her peers heard from at the event is Lauren Walton, Nurse Practitioner at SETFHT.

Nurse practitioner smiling with mask

Lauren Walton, Nurse Practitioner at South East Toronto Family Health Team.

Nurse practitioners, also known as NPs, are nurses with additional schooling and training. They have an expanded scope of practice and are able to diagnose health concerns, order tests like bloodwork and ultrasound, prescribe medication, make referrals to specialists and more.

The role of nurse practitioners is less widely known in the community than that of registered nurses and registered practical nurses.

For this reason, Lauren says she wanted to join the event at MGH to help promote the work of nurse practitioners.

“With how challenging these past few years have been due to the pandemic, I think people are aware there are a lot of pressures in nursing,” Lauren says.

“I wanted to be able to share how rewarding the profession can be and how important it is.”

Learning about roles beyond the hospital

Two people standing wearing masks

From left, Sandra Patrick, Regional Facilitator for Toronto Diabetes Care Connect, and Monica Chopra, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator at the Diabetes Education Community Network of East Toronto at SRCHC.

Monica Chopra, Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator at the Diabetes Education Community Network of East Toronto (DECNET) at SRCHC, also participated in the event.

Monica says she was motivated to share more about her work as a dietitian – and how community health centres collaborate with hospitals and other healthcare providers – because she has a high-school student of her own at home.

Therefore, she sees firsthand how overwhelming it can be for youth to decide on their career path.

“Through this event, I hope students are able to see how a hospital works with other areas of the healthcare system, like community care, to provide care for people,” Monica says.

“And I hope, by having a better understanding of these different roles and what we do, they’re better able to find where their passion and interests lie.”

It’s a feeling shared by students like Jerone and Katelyn.

“I got to see the health system in my community – the one where my family gets care – from a different perspective,” Jerone says.

“It’s important for students to go to these events and learn about the careers they want to pursue,” Katelyn adds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *