Swan Hills Welcomes Back Swancicle Days

Swan Hills School students from grades 9 – 12 will have an opportunity to learn about exciting, in-demand rural healthcare careers on April 6. Local Registered Nurse (RN) Tara LaBerge has spearheaded this event to give the community’s youth a chance to find out more about the various healthcare vocations at the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre (SHHC) and the duties that they perform.

Students will receive Invitations to attend the event through the school this Wednesday, to be returned by March 22. Participating students will arrive at the SHHC at 9:00 AM on April 6 and spend the day doing hands-on activities at multiple skills stations and learning from health professionals, including Emergency Medical Services (EMS), RNs, Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Healthcare Aides (HCAs), and Combined Lab and X-ray Technologists (CLXTs). The event’s organizers are attempting to secure professionals to represent Mental Health and Addictions, as well as Public Health, but have not received confirmation as of the writing of this article.

The skills stations will consist of demonstrations of tasks performed by the given health professionals, followed by opportunities for students to try out these tasks for themselves. For example, the EMS representatives will provide a tour of the ambulance and demonstrate emergency spinal stabilization. The nurses will demonstrate giving injections, setting up IVs, taking a patient’s blood pressure, and some advanced skills unique to rural RNs. Students will then be able to try out and practice these skills in a safe setting under the supervision of experienced healthcare professionals.

Representatives from the SHHC support services (maintenance, environmental, laundry, and dietary) will also be on hand and available to speak about their positions and what they do.

This High School Healthcare Skills Day is the result of a collaborative effort between Tara LaBerge, the Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP), and the Town of Swan Hills, with the support of the Swan Hills Community Health Board and the Swan Hills Hospital Foundation.

RhPAP’s mission is to “Support rural Alberta communities in their efforts to keep health care close to home.” According to their website, RhPAP was initially established in 1991 to support rural physicians, but over the past three decades has “grown to be a broader rural community health workforce attraction and retention resource, an ally with Alberta’s medical schools, as well as a trusted, collaborative partner for rural Alberta communities trying to achieve greater access to health care.” They have been key partners in putting this event together.

When asked about this skills day event, Mrs. LaBerge explained, “Our goal is to expose our kids here to careers in healthcare and to demonstrate that Swan Hills is a good place to work. We have qualities about the Swan Hills Healthcare Centre that are unique, that set us apart from anywhere else in rural Alberta. The Swan Hills Healthcare Centre is the smallest healthcare centre in the North Zone. And as anybody who lives here knows, our geography and limited resources present challenges uncommon to most healthcare centres in the province.”

Jeff Goebel, Town Councillor and Chairperson of the Swan Hills Community Health Board, has worked closely with LaBerge to help bring this event to the students of Swan Hills. When asked for his thoughts on the upcoming skills day for students, he said, “I am excited to be part of this collaborative effort initiated by Tara LaBerge to present our community’s students with the career opportunities within rural healthcare, particularly within Swan Hills.”

Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette