Discovery Healthcare

It was a summer of discovery for four Schulich Medicine students who ventured off to camp in communities across Southwestern Ontario. Joined by more than 100 high school students interested in exploring health care as a profession, the experience delivered new experiences and lasting memories for all.

The camp, aptly called Discovery Healthcare, was developed by medical students, who worked in conjunction with the Distributed Education Office, and partners in the School’s distributed education network to redevelop the School’s previous summer camp, MedQuest. The primary goal of Discovery Healthcare is to provide teenagers in Southwestern Ontario who have an interest in health care with an opportunity to explore medicine, nursing, pharmacy and other health-related fields in a fun and engaging manner.

For John Cameron, Medicine Class of 2020, Dylan Russelo, Medicine Class of 2020, and Richard Ying Yu, Medicine Class of 2021, getting involved with the camp was a throwback to their youth when they attended MedQuest. They jumped at the opportunity to get involved, develop the plans for the new camp and engage more young people in the region.

“I think it is extremely important to expose youth in the community to the many career opportunities that exist in health care,” said Russelo. “Not only the pathway to a career as a physician, but also to the many diverse allied health fields that some students may never known existed."

While Vivian Tia, Medicine Class of 2021, didn’t have a personal connection to the camp, she was just as passionate as her peers about engaging the students.

“I really enjoy working with younger students, in general,” she said. “So the opportunity to teach them about health care careers and what being a health care practitioner is like was very appealing to me.”

The four camp leaders also feel a responsibility, as medical students, to give back to the community and participate in advocacy.

“I believe university students in health care and health sciences have an obligation to engage in some form of community involvement in some point in their journey,” said Russelo.

Discovery Healthcare offered four different sessions this past summer, each for one week in Chatham, Leamington, Sarnia, and Wingham. Campers had a chance to meet with different health care providers, tour hospitals, do casting, learn about intubation and administer first aid. By far, though, the favourite learning activity was suturing, with camper after camper excitedly sharing their experience with the new skill.

Campers weren’t the only ones acquiring new skills. The four camp leaders experienced personal growth and discovered some new things about themselves. From newfound patience and enriched communications skills to discovering a passion for teaching – the four weeks offered a number of new learnings for the medical student counsellors.

“I learned a lot this past summer,” said Yu. “Most significant would be the importance of thinking on your feet." Yu says that being flexible, adapting to unexpected situations and remaining calm while trying to find solutions were important on a daily basis.

For Russelo, it was in the moments when 25 sets of eyes were staring blankly at him, asking what to do next, that he realized how to think quickly and be creative in handling situations.

Discovery Healthcare summer camp is an important program for Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and its partners in Southwestern Ontario. Everyone is counting down the days to the 2019 camp schedule and the activities that will be offered.