CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. – Aboriginal students interested in a career in healthcare can now have a behind-the-scenes experience.

Through a partnership between Island Health’s Aboriginal Employment Program and School District 72, a number of Campbell River students were able to shadow healthcare professionals.

The students shadowed hospital employees for a total of four weeks to get a taste of what it’s like to work in healthcare.

According to Aboriginal employment advisor Michele van der Wielen, students picked which departments they wanted to go to and who they wanted to shadow.

“They get to spend time with up to four different professionals for approximately four hours once a week over four weeks,” van der Wielen said. Students can choose from pharmacy to radiology, and even housekeeping.

“Pretty much anything in the hospital, they can shadow, including administration and food services.”

The program is available to Aboriginal students in grades 11 and 12, but van der Wielen said that spots open up and they are able to take in non-Indigenous students.

After two successful sessions in the Campbell River school district, van der Wielen said the program is coming to the Comox Valley in late February.

“We are trying to increase our Aboriginal workforce with Island Health and we recognize that the increase in our Aboriginal workforce not only meets our core workforce needs but also helps us create a culturally safe environment for all people.”

Van der Wielen said the program is also available in Port Hardy’s school district. Their first round was in early fall 2018, with another round coming in May or June.