The Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management opened its doors to grade 9 students as part of Take Your Kid to Work Day.
The Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management opened its doors to grade 9 students as part of Take Your Kid to Work Day.

Grade 9 students try out a career in medicine for a day

What if you could get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into a day in the life of a doctor?

A group of Grade 9 students did just that on Nov. 6, as part of “Take Your Kid to Work Day” hosted by the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative Medicine and Pain Management. This one-day job shadowing experience is a Saskatoon Public Schools initiative, part of a larger Canadian campaign to help expand the career horizons for students.

“As physicians, our kids get lots of benefits by having a physician as a parent, but we’re also not around – we miss birthdays and soccer games,” explained Dr. Justina Koshinsky (MD), anesthesiologist, and co-director of simulation, who organized the day. “This is also an opportunity for them to at least get a glimpse of what of we do for a living and what we love about our job.”

This is the second year the department has hosted this day for students. Koshinsky was inspired to organize the day in part to let her son get a glimpse into her profession and to give other kids a peek into the field of medicine last year. As a physician, it was challenging to have her son join her at work due to privacy and safety concerns.

“Since I have a role as the co-lead of simulation in the anesthesiology department, one of my colleagues and I were like, ‘Wait a second, we have access to all of this stuff with our simulation role and it is what we use to teach residents and each other how to do aspects of our job. Why can’t we use it to show our children what we do at work?’”

Koshinsky noted that in addition to anesthesiology colleagues, three emergency physician colleagues were on hand to help run the stations, all of whom had a child participating in the day. There were also students whose parents worked within the College of Medicine, while others didn’t have family who worked in healthcare at all. 

The students, along with physicians, participated in the event in the department’s office and simulation area, away from patients, and without concerns for privacy.

Rather than simply watching and listening, students were active participants. Small groups of one to two students rotated through stations highlighting different aspects of medicine. These included the ultrasound machine, anatomy and physical exam, blood pressure station, bronchoscopy, laparoscopic trainers, with the volunteer physicians educating kids. Kids could try their hand in suturing, and moulage – makeup that simulates real wounds.

While the morning focused on introducing students to skills and equipment, the afternoon allowed kids to come together as a large group to solve an “escape room” using the skills and knowledge they acquired earlier in the day.

For Grade 9 student Rumbi, it was an opportunity to get a first-hand glimpse at a career that interests her.

“I’ve thought about going into anesthesiology,” she said, while trying her skills at suturing under the watchful eye of Dr. Rob Woods. “It’s different than what I thought it would be. I thought it would be injections. That’s what it’s like on TV.”

Grade 9 student Affaan said a career in medicine could be in his future.  The experience provided a hands-on opportunity to try his hand at skills outside his classroom. “Without ‘Take Your Kid to Work Day’, I’m not able to see what I’m interested in.”

“Being able to be exposed to some of the stuff we do in this environment can, I hope, pique somebody’s interest that it might be the career for them,” Koshinsky said.

And for those students who like the idea of medicine, but maybe not as a doctor? Koshinsky noted there’s lots of way to get involved without being a physician.

“We need nurses and anesthesia assistants and electrical engineers to design our machines that we use,” she said. “We need maintenance people for maintaining them, computer technicians in our simulation lab, we need education experts for developing curriculum and teaching us how we’re supposed to teach and learn.”

While the day allowed for students to see what goes on beyond-the-scenes, Koshinsky hopes for opportunities for a wider audience.

“I would love to see this grow so that actually we could do some camps for specifically, general public, because this is a unique day that is kind of designated for your kid.”

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