When you don’t know what to do with your life, an accidental encounter may just fill your prescription.
When Vancouverite Shannon Sanborn somersaulted on her rollerblades, she also crashed headlong into the health care system. Two paramedics collected her from the sidewalk, the emergency room nurse checked her out, a physician ordered X-rays, and a nurse’s aide wheeled her up so the X-ray technician could photograph her injured back. Recovery was slow. Shannon regularly visited a physiotherapist. A massage therapist freed up some of her uptight muscles. A kinesiologist taught her stomach strengthening exercises to help support her back ligaments.
But her lower spine continued to throb until an acupuncturist broke the pain cycle. “My nerves seemed in a stuck position,” recalls Shannon. “The acupuncture treatment cut short the non-stop firing of the nerve cells and allowed my back muscles to heal completely. A combination of western and complementary medicine helped me recover.”
The words “doctor”, “nurse”, and “dentist” may jump into our minds when we think about health care careers. These professionals offer many valuable health care services. But they represent only some of the many people who help us stay healthy. As Shannon’s rollerblade crash shows, today’s health care providers deliver medicine well beyond mainstream practices. From ambulance attendants to transplant specialists, dental technicians to orthodontists, hospital admission clerks to hospital presidents, speech therapists to geneticists, naturopaths to reiki and massage therapists, there is a health career to fit everyone.
Kim Andersen, 19, says that volunteering is a way of both learning about careers and giving back. Kim began volunteering at Victoria Hospice three years ago. “When my uncle died under Hospice care, our family was treated so well I wanted to do something in return.” Kim finds her volunteer work incredibly worthwhile, although sometimes emotionally draining. But she loves it. “I visit with patients,” she says, “talk with them, take them to the Rooftop Garden, bring them tea — little things like that. They’ve taught me to be patient and compassionate.”
Kim will take what she learns from Hospice staff into her own health care field. She is working toward a physiotherapy degree at the University of British Columbia. “Through volunteer work and some physio I experienced after a fall, I know what I want to do,” she says. “That’s essential. There’s no point spending heaps of time and money on school and then realizing you hate your chosen field.”
VICKI AND MIKO LEARN ON THE JOB
Jobs in all health care fields are plentiful and the numbers are even more promising in the future. That’s one reason 20-year-old Vicki Klie decided on nursing. She’ll graduate as a registered nurse next spring from St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario, and she’s happy about her many options. “I live near Detroit,” she says, “and with the nursing shortage I can work in the U.S. or Canada.”
Vicki’s interest in nursing was sparked by a high-school co-op term when she rode with the paramedics. “It was awesome,” she says. “Those adventures made up my mind for