September 23, 2009

Program That Connects Aboriginal High School Students to Medical Careers Wins National Award

A program that sees Aboriginal high school students wearing scrubs and interning with medical personnel has garnered a national award.

Children of the Earth High School's Medical Career Exploration Program is a four-year program where students explore, through internships at the Winnipeg health region's Pan Am Clinic, various career options within the medical field such as: physicians, MRI technologists, nursing, health information clerks, orthopedic technologists and many more. The program provides many opportunities for inner city students who would otherwise not consider a career in any aspect of medicine, or even post-secondary education.

The Medical Career Exploration Program is the result of a partnership among the Winnipeg School Division, Pan Am Clinic, The Health Sciences Centre, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority-Aboriginal Health Programs and The University of Manitoba-Access Program. The project is supported by a grant from The Winnipeg Foundation and The Province of Manitoba's Bright Futures Fund.

Dr. Brock Wright, Chief Medical Officer for Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said the physicians involved in the program have really enjoyed the experience, "We know how important it is to encourage young people in these communities to consider a career in health care," he said. "The continued interest and enthusiasm students have shown for this program gives us great confidence in the future."

Principal Lorne Belmore said the program is definitely opening doors for his students. "Through their internships, students realize that a career in medicine is an attainable and realistic option. These young people are trying harder in school and making a commitment to become better learners," Belmore said.

"Over 32,000 students have been surveyed about their classroom experiences so far in our What did you do in school today? Initiative," said Penny Milton, chief executive officer of the Canadian Education Association. "They're telling us that school work must be real; it should make a difference and be linked to their lives beyond school. Children of the Earth's Medical Careers Exploration Program exemplifies this type of learning and I know that other school districts across the country will take notice of this work"

The Canadian Education Association 2009 Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning was presented to the school on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 11:00 a.m. at the Pan Am Clinic, 75 Poseidon Bay. This is the first year for the award.

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