Students gain practical knowledge at Health Sciences Day

ABOVE: Tayleur Courtice, a Grade 11 student at College Heights Secondary School, does an ultrasound examination on high-tech patient Wally, with guidance from College of New Caledonia sonography instructor Krystie Frederick during Health Sciences Day on Wednesday at the college. BELOW: Kaiden Wittstruck, in his Grade 12 year at Prince George Secondary School, keeps watch on the monitor while he conducts an ultrasound exam on Wally.

Health Sciences Day gave students from School District No. 57 a possible glimpse into their futures.

Twenty Grade 11 and 12 students from around the district spent Wednesday at the College of New Caledonia, where they gained hands-on experience and knowledge in five different areas of health science – medical laboratory technology, practical nursing, sonography, radiography and dental assisting/hygiene. Health Sciences Day is coordinated by SD 57’s Skills, Trades and Careers department and made possible by CNC’s involvement. It was well-received by the students who participated.

“I think it’s helpful for students that are looking into this kind of job,” said Kaiden Wittstruck, a Grade 12 student at Prince George Secondary School who is interested in pursuing a career as a licensed practical nurse. “It gives them an actual look into what they’ll be doing for the classwork and everything to see if it’s suitable for them.”

Given his area of interest, Wittstruck found the practical nursing component of Heath Sciences Day particularly valuable.

“For the practical nursing, it was nice to see what they actually do because the responsibilities over the last several years have changed, the things they do,” he said. “The LPN course has definitely evolved. It used to be a six-month course and now it’s two years.”

Tia Herzig, also in Grade 12 at Prince George Secondary School, is considering becoming an ultrasound technician or a psychiatric nurse. Herzig found the sonography portion of the day enlightening, especially when she and her group had the chance to meet the CNC sonography department’s two high-tech simulation dolls, Wally and Eva. The dolls come complete with internal ‘organs’ and provide a virtual-reality experience for sonography students.
“It’s cool how far technology has come, even for ultrasound,” Herzig said. “You could see everything inside of (the dolls).”

CNC’s sonography program is brand new. It welcomed its first cohort of students – eight of them – in January 2019. Sonography instructor Julie Thomas was happy to be part of Health Sciences Day, and happy to see high school students benefiting from it.

“Unless they’ve had an ultrasound, a lot of them don’t even know what it is or are even aware of what sonography is so I think for them to come in and see the scanning that we do here and all the different things is really beneficial,” Thomas said. “I’m hoping it’s going to increase the interest and bring in students from the north – just making them aware that the program is here.”