Young Medical Minds

Junior High students experience junior med school

“My favourite part was learning how to do casting and stitches.”

Donning their own medical coats, Junior High students Georgia Borus (13) and Tannen Zamrykut (12) prepare to follow the journey of a (fictional) patient injured while skateboarding.

Borus practices wrapping a splint around another student’s forearm, as if he were treating the actual patient. In another corner, Zamrykut experiences what it might be like having a head injury; an auditory hallucination simulation of overlapping voices plays through headphones as he tries to complete a word puzzle.

Borus and Zamrykut are two of 12 Camrose students who recently participated in Young Medical Minds—a five-week experiential learning program at Covenant Health’s St. Mary’s Hospital and University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus.

“It’s like medical school for kids,” says Zamrykut.

This initiative is designed to expose youth to career opportunities in the health sciences.

“They learn about a variety of health professions,” explains Dr. Christopher Nichol, family physician in Camrose. “They are exposed to roles and duties of those in EMS, ER, diagnostic imaging and lab services, and rehabilitation.”

Inspired by his own exposure to careers in science at a young age, Dr. Nichol wanted to provide a similar experience to youth in his community. Young Medical Minds is a joint initiative between Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, the local medical community, and sponsored by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta and the Camrose Rotary Club.

“Junior High students are at a prime age for career discovery,” explains Tammy Syrnyk, senior advisor with Talent Management Strategies, Human Resources at AHS.

Health providers in Camrose willingly volunteered their time to teach in the program.

“These kids are our future,” explains Linda Postma, clinical educator with EMS. “We need to spend time inspiring future health professionals.”

Zamrykut’s experience changed his perspective of career options in health care.

“There are more careers than a doctor, nurse, and EMT.”

For Borus, she appreciated the program’s hands-on focus.

“It’s more interesting than just reading about it from a book,” she says. “My favourite part was learning how to do casting and stitches.”

This fall was the pilot of the Young Medical Minds program. A second session is planned for early 2016.