Applying for medical school was all about having enough courage.
That was one of the messages Simran Lehal shared when she returned to her hometown as part of a health care travelling roadshow held at Lake City Secondary School’s Williams Lake campus Wednesday.
“In 2014 I decided to apply to medicine,” Lehal told the Tribune. “Either I was going to stay working in government or pursue medical studies.”
When she applied to medical school, the Northern Medical Program at the University of Northern B.C. was her first choice and she got in her first try, she added.
Lehal is in her third year of the program now and helped plan this year’s roadshow with stops in Quesnel, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.
The purpose of the roadshows is three-fold, Lehal said.
“We want to expose high school students to diverse health care careers, show post-secondary health care students rural communities and provide an interdisciplinary exposure for health care students because we can learn from each other.”
Joining Lehal on the tour were two other students from the NMP, as well as students studying nursing, midwifery, audiology, pharmacy, occupational therapy and respiratory therapy in B.C. and a medical laboratory technology student from Alberta.
Born at Cariboo Memorial Hospital and raised in the lakecity, Lehal attended Nesika Elementary and graduated from Columneetza Secondary in 2007.
After high school she attended UNBC in Prince George, taking sciences, and then travelled and worked throughout B.C. for the government and in education. She has a bachelor of education as well.
“It took me a while to find out what my direction was,” she said.
Lake City Secondary Grade 11 students Kayley Urquhart and Olivia MacDonald were among the students taking in the roadshow Wednesday who said they have plans to pursue medical careers.
“I am interested in taking nursing at Thompson Rivers University,” Urquhart said. “I like helping people and I volunteer as a firefighter in Big Lake and we do medical things there too.”
MacDonald wants to become an ultrasound technician and learned from a Northern Health representative during the roadshow that the College of New Caledonia in Prince George plans to offer a new diagnostic medical sonography program with plans to take new students in September 2018.
“I am taking biology 11 and 12, physics 11 and pre-calculus 11 and 12 because I know I will need those courses,” MacDonald said.
Urquhart and MacDonald also said they have been encouraged to work as care aids when they are in Grade 12 because it will be good experience for them as they pursue their careers.
NMP first year student Kristjan Mytting told the students he was a “terrible” high school student, but he never gave up believing in himself.
“I became interested in medicine when some people I knew died of cancer,” he said. “I then went and volunteered at clinic in South Africa.”
Audiologist Sylvia Chan who is studying her doctorate at UBC said it was her brother’s hearing loss from serving in the military that inspired her to go into the field. Her doctorate looks at hearing loss in babies, she added.
Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District Chair Margo Wagner said the CCRHD supported the roadshow with a tour for the students to Xat’sull Heritage Village and Farwell Canyon to showcase the area.
“Having the roadshow here was brought forward by our previous chair John Massier in his role as chair of the Northern Medical Trust Program,” Wagner said. “When he brought it forward to the CCRHD we saw it as an ideal opportunity to use it as a recruitment tool because all of these young students are going to be looking for somewhere to work after gradutaion.”
The CCRHD hosted a community dinner with the medical students on Tuesday to meet professionals working in Williams Lake. They also held one in Quesnel and 100 Mile House.
“For us it’s a good investment,” Wagner said. “Some of them are local and some are from the Lower Mainland who have never been north of Hope so they are having a lot of fun.”
Lehal said the reception they received in Williams Lake was great.
“We met doctors, city councillors and people from the regional hospital district,” she said.
“It’s nice to be back in my hometown,” she added, noting her dad Sarj works at West Fraser and her mom Ranie works at the library.
Sonya Kruger, communications manager with the NMP, said the roadshows are always an opportunity for high school students to be introduced to professions they may not have even known existed.
“And they get to play hands-on with equipment,”Kruger said.
Here students talk about their programs to Lake City Secondary students at the Williams Lake campus.