Nfld. & Labrador

Camp aims to recruit Indigenous youth to jobs in health care

A week-long health camp in western Newfoundland hopes to recruit Indigenous youth to the medical field.

It's the second time the week-long session was offered

Indigenous youth got a chance to learn about different health care careers from paramedicine to radiology. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Indigenous youth from all over the province are in Corner Brook to learn about careers in the medical field and how to get the education they need to work in those jobs.

Program director Dr. Carolyn Sturge Sparkes said the week-long Healers of Tomorrow camp is for youth between 14 and 19 and is designed to give them a look at a wide range of health-care jobs.

"We needed to outreach into the communities more deeply to younger students," says Sturge Sparkes, who said the camp is a spinoff of the Aboriginal health initiative at Memorial University's faculty of medicine. 

"Unless we get them into university, we're not going to get them into the professional schools."

It's the second time the camp has been offered — the first was held for 11 students in 2015.

This year 22 students are taking part and some have come from remote parts of the province, including the coast of Labrador. Sturge Sparkes said that was one reason for hosting the camp in Corner Brook.

"I think they [students] feel more comfortable being here in this community, than in a bigger setting."

Wide range of medical careers

The camp touches on a wide range of health-care professions with short sessions taught by facilitators working in the field. The week also has sessions about well-being and Aboriginal culture taught by elders and healers.

Cassidy Lambert, 14, of Conne River is one of 22 students attending a Corner Brook camp about career options in health care. (Gary Moore/CBC)

For 14-year-old Cassidy Lambert of Conne River, the week has been full of possibilities.

"I like the fact of being able to help people and to be able to change people and the world in general," said Lambert who is interested in pursuing a health-care career. 

"It's very interesting to see — somewhat — the behind the scenes of how doctors get to where they are now, and people getting to choose their paths."

Robert Kavanagh of St. John's is excited to be taking part in the camp. He's just finished his first year at Memorial University and is looking at medical school.

Robert Kavanagh of St. John's just finished his first year at Memorial University and hopes to get into medical school. (Gary Moore/CBC)

"We're learning about all kinds of different positions from paramedics to radiologists and the nurses and everyone in between."

Kavanagh says it's a rare chance to see many areas of health care. 

"Without this I feel like I just really wouldn't know much about the fields. And, for them to get all these professionals in the fields to come in and talk to us and take time out of their day is just a really great opportunity."

Sturge Sparkes says out of the 11 students from the first camp in 2015, four are currently studying nursing. 

"I think that's a pretty good batting average," she said, adding that she hopes to see a similar number of recruits from this session. 

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.