For the fifth consecutive year, HealthKick and the Foundation for Education Perth Huron presented SPECTRUM, a forum that encourages students from Huron and Perth Counties to consider careers in rural healthcare.
Coordinated by Lisa Houthuyzen, the forum recently took place on a school board Professional Development Day and was held in Clinton at the Huron County Health Unit.
The SPECTRUM Healthcare Career Forum gave a record 35 grade 10, 11, and 12 students the opportunity to explore a variety of healthcare-related fields, such as medicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, health promotion, dental & health inspection and emergency medical services. During the one day event, students participated in hands-on activities related to healthcare and met with professionals to learn about individual occupations.
“Six of my careers students attended Spectrum and came back with glowing accounts”, remarks teacher Kelly Payne. “As a result, all six job shadowed at the local hospital, loved it, and now want to do a co-op placement there next year. Spectrum certainly sparked a movement and planted the seeds that has quickly grown into a keen interest in healthcare.”
Through some financial and administrative support from the Foundation for Education Perth Huron, Spectrum is developed and lead by HealthKick.
HealthKick was founded in 2005 under the auspices of the Huron Business Development Corporation (HBDC).
With a mission to encourage healthcare professionals to live and work in rural Ontario, it created opportunities whereby rural healthcare could be explored by youth and adults, arranged rural healthcare work placements and provided college-based rural healthcare training programs.
This month, after the failure of a last ditch attempt to garner further support from The County of Huron and The Ontario Trillium Foundation, HealthKick announced that the program will come to an end in January thus marking the finale of its’ decade of influence.
“Gateway has made remarkable progress with the help of HealthKick summer students”, states Gwen Devereaux, President of Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health. “When we see a Provincial & National award winning project that has been a fabulous youth retention and recruitment strategy in rural healthcare not receive adequate funding to continue it breaks our hearts.”
Through HealthKick 226 local community members were certified, trained and graduated as Registered Nurses, Personal Support Workers, Food Service Workers and Pharmacy Technicians by way of 1700 instructional hours.
Over 130 rural youth were given work experience with local healthcare employers, 341 gained comprehensive insight into rural healthcare through HealthKick’s annual summer camp and one-day forum (Spectrum) and over 5000 were engaged through classroom visits and career fairs.
“We have had a wonderful 10 year run with this project”, states Laura Overholt, Project Manager for HealthKick addressing her committee members. “We can all be very proud of our accomplishments and the impact we have made on our community.”
On behalf of the students and their communities, the Foundation for Education would like to thank Laura Overholt and her team at HealthKick for the vital role they have played in opening eyes to the unique challenges and rich possibilities found in a career in rural healthcare.