Healthcare Career Expo shines light on opportunities for youth

More than 400 northern students took part in a recent AHS Healthcare Career Expo in High Level.

More than 400 northern students took part in a recent AHS Healthcare Career Expo in High Level. Photo supplied.


North Zone Area 1 team passionate about ‘grow your own’ approach to staffing


Story by Diana Rinne


HIGH LEVEL — Northern students took advantage of the chance to learn more about healthcare careers and get some hands-on experience during Alberta Health Services (AHS) Healthcare Career Expo held recently in High Level.


Close to 420 students from across Area 1 participated in the expo held at the High Level Public School.


“We really wanted to showcase all of the healthcare career opportunities we have in Area 1,” says Angie Mann, director of Clinical Operations for Area 1, North Zone. “Everyone put in so much time and energy to pull this all together — and did an amazing job connecting with the students.”


The March 26 event featured hands-on presentations, interactive experiences and opportunities for students to network with healthcare professionals from all areas of AHS operations as well as other local healthcare services.


Students visited 31 presentation booths during the expo, with some showcasing multiple career options. “We had more than 65 presenters who volunteered that day,” adds Mann.


High school students, along with 140 Grade 7 and 8 students, enjoyed activities such as suturing, IVs, injection stations and a germ room, to name just a few.


“We want to spark that interest and bring awareness to students of all the opportunities we have right here in Area 1,” says Mann. “It was also about encouraging them to volunteer in the areas they’re interested in, so we can support them in their future career path.


“For youth who want to work areas such as the lab, pharmacy, protective services, nursing, or become a physician, for example — whatever their interests are in healthcare — we can support mentorship opportunities through volunteer programs and help them find their passion.”


The concept of “growing our own” healthcare professionals is a philosophy that Mann has been passionate about for many years — and adds that she felt ecstatic about being able to revive the local Health Career Expo this year after a nine-year hiatus.


The last career expo/skills day was held in 2015. One planned for 2019 had to be cancelled due to the Chuckegg Creek wildfire that year.


Tyrah Brewster, who grew up in Chateh, an hour northwest of High Level, was one of the students who took part in the 2015 health career expo.


“Not only did the career expo when I was in high school have a positive impact, it most importantly opened the door to the different opportunities or possibilities that I may not have known about prior,” she recalls. “Having grown up on reserve I was not exposed to many opportunities or role models, let alone believe I could one day pursue them.”


Fast forward to this year, and Brewster — now a Registered Nurse at Northwest Health Centre — stepped up to be one of the volunteers/presenters, paying forward the positive impact she felt from her earlier expo experience.


“It really brings my journey full circle,” says Brewster. “Nine years ago, I attended this same event as a student, eager to explore a potential future in healthcare. Now, as a healthcare professional, I’m happy to be back up north to share my experiences and maybe inspire these students by demonstrating that it is possible for them to consider/pursue a career in healthcare. They belong in this space too.”


Mann says response to the expo has been overwhelmingly positive. The team also sent a smaller version to Rainbow Lake to connect with students there in late April. She plans to have the teams pull together to present a Healthcare Career Expo for local students every three to four years.


“This is about thinking innovatively about what we can do differently here to recruit and retain healthcare professionals. It’s really a ‘grow your own’ project. Health is so important, and this is an opportunity for us to highlight the amazing things we have locally and encourage our youth to participate and get involved because they really are our future.”

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