High school students get hands on hospital experience

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High school students from across Far North Queensland participating in the Heroes in Health program.

High school students from across Far North Queensland participating in the Heroes in Health program.

Dozens of students in their final years of high school are flocking to Cairns Hospital this week to get a head start in a health career.

The Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service has partnered with James Cook University to offer 40 high schoolers across the Far North a unique and exciting opportunity to explore medical, nursing, midwifery and allied health careers at the hospital under the new 'Heroes in Health' program.

The program is open to Year 11 and 12 students residing in in Far North Queensland, with successful applicants from Tully to the tip of Cape York attending in Cairns this week.

CHHHS Acting Nursing Director Strategic Planning and Workforce, Paolo La Penna, said the two-day program provided hands-on activities such as simulation training, understanding treatment and care, basic life support, and a tour of the hospital’s pathology laboratory.

'This is a wonderful opportunity to give students an insight to a range of health-related fields, ask questions directly to the experts in that field, and have an enjoyable experience at the same time,' he said.

'Many high school students in Years 11 and 12 are already exploring options for their future career and deciding what career pathway to take can be daunting.

'It’s difficult for students to know whether they will like being a health professional, so offering this program can support them in making the right decision.

'It’s important that we share how rewarding a career in health is to those entering the workforce.'

CHHHS Acting Nursing Director for Nurse Education, Alison Trivella, said the program would showcase the Health Service as a prospective workplace to students; and JCU advisors would be available to assist with study and career options.

'What we have seen over the last two years is an increasing demand for qualified health professionals state-wide and nationally,' she said.  
'Cairns and Far North Queensland is a remarkable place to work, and we want to promote this to locals.'

She said one of the objectives of the program was to entice and attract local students wanting to work in the health sector.

'Providing these students options to study locally and develop their career locally is a win for CHHHS, JCU, and the region,' she said.

'Recruiting qualified health professionals is challenging, so alleviating that pressure by encouraging local students to remain in the region essentially means we are nurturing our own.'

JCU’s Cameron Murphy said the program helps students make well-informed choices about their careers.

'We know that health professionals who train in a regional centre are more likely to build their careers where they’re needed,' he said.

'Seeing those professions in action can show the students how their studies can lead to rewarding careers that make a difference.'

Plans are underway to make Heroes in Health an annual program.