Zahil carefully uses a laryngoscope to clear the airway of his patient-model with the help of Tara Fowler from the Respiratory Therapy clinic at Toronto General Hospital as fellow Grade 9 student Connor looks on. (Photo: UHN)

It was a glimpse into some of the work their parents do.

UHN yesterday hosted about 200 Grade 9 students – all sons and daughters of employees – at all four hospitals for the annual Take Our Kids to Work Day.

Volunteer Resources across UHN, in partnership with staff from clinical, administrative and research departments, prepared an amazing day that gave students a glimpse into healthcare professions, state-of-the-art technology utilized in patient care and some of the work and research occurring here.

"It's cool to see all the different things going on in the hospital," said Kyera, a Grade 9 student visiting Toronto Western Hospital (TW) for the day. "You already know about doctors and nurses, but it's cool to see what other people are doing."

Take Our Kids to Work Day was founded in 1994 by The Learning Partnership, a national charitable organization promoting and supporting publicly-funded education in Canada. It began in the Greater Toronto Area but now spans the country and happens in November every year.

It began at UHN as a corporate initiative in 2006 under the leadership of Emma Pavlov, EVP Human Resources/Organizational Development and Michener Operations.

Grade 9 students yesterday began their day in a similar fashion with an introduction and orientation.  Each site then offered different glimpses into a day at UHN. Through hands-on activities, demonstrations, presentations, simulations, video, role-playing and discussion with clinical and non-clinical staff, they were able to get a sense of the diversity of roles and professions within healthcare.

Here are some snapshots:

Due to the intense renovation project in full swing at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM), the students shared their morning with the students at Toronto Rehab (TR) as part of the Young Innovators Program. 

This combined program provided the students, under the leadership of some passionate and talented researchers, with an up close and personal look at the iDapt research labs at TR. A tour of the research areas revealed new technologies and strong impact of advances in technology on rehabilitation and overall treatment of patients.

The two groups shared lunch with an enthusiastic exchange about their experiences that morning.

Boy sitting in DriverLab
Jaden gets behind the wheel of iDAPT DriverLab during a tour of iDAPT research labs at Toronto Rehab. (Photo: UHN)

The PM students spent the afternoon learning about the breadth of the cancer programs available to patients (both clinical and supportive), as well as about cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. 

They visited such unique areas as the Radiation Medicine, the Image Guided Therapy Lab, Eye and Facial Prosthetics, Dental Oncology and ELLICSR: Health, Wellness and Cancer Survivorship Centre, where they were treated to a nutritional cooking demonstration by Chef Geremy.

Radiation Imaging played a fun game using slides to show all the different objects that people have swallowed and how x-rays help to provide a diagnosis. 

"The day has been really good," Alyssa said of the PM tour. "All of the sessions have been engaging and fun.

"The ELLICSR Kitchen is really cool and they gave us some good tips for healthy eating."

The students from TR shared their afternoon with Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Therapeutic Recreation.  They had the opportunity to test their response rate just like elite athletes, participate with Therapeutic Recreation in a therapeutic activity, learn how to make a splint, and see firsthand the miracles that are performed in the lives of the patients in Rehab. 

The feedback from students was immediate and extremely positive. 

"Honestly, I'm shocked," Leen said after getting a look at Toronto Rehab's iDAPT research labs, including WinterLab and iDAPT​ ​DriverLab. "I didn't expect anything like this in downtown Toronto."

Across Toronto General Hospital (TG) and TW, groups of students visited the Medical Laboratory Program, rotating through Surgical Pathology, Immunohematology and Core Lab.  Some students spent time with Nursing, Allied Health professions such as Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Speech Language Pathology, Respiratory Therapy, Nutrition, Social Work and Pharmacy. 

In Nursing, they discussed the different roles within the profession, opportunities for research and teaching, the various clinical environments, the utilization of technology and the impact of new technologies on the profession. 

When they visited the various Allied Health professions, they utilized different equipment in a rehab gym, learned about different food textures, intubation and the packaging of medications using candies as well as how to make a cream.

"Medicine is so interesting," said Zahil at TG. "Learning about how different parts of the human body work makes me want to pursue medicine one day."

Cooking demo at ELLICSR
Alexia (C) assists ELLICSR Wellness Chef Geremy Capone with adding some avocado to a dark cherry smoothie as Registered Dietitian Stephanie Gladman looks on as part of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre group’s tour. (Photo: UHN)

Other students visited Central Processing, Nuclear Cardiology and Neuro-Psychology.  They learned about the different modes of sterilization for instruments used in the Operating Room (OR), discussed the effects on a patient who underwent deep brain stimulation and viewed images of a heart pre and post heart attack.

A number of groups visited Medical Imaging, Medical Engineering, Telehealth, Human Factors and Digital Education where they learned about biomedical devices and technology, imaging technology, the way technology is used to provide health care and education to patients when clinicians and patients are located far from each other, and the overall positive impact that technology is having on healthcare.

A number of students learned about transplantation while those who visited the Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis Program and Hand Program had the opportunity to make splints and casts as well as view computer simulations.  Those who visited the OR at TW participated in a laparoscopic simulation, practiced suturing and learned about anatomy while those who spent time with the Community and Mental Health Program visited an addictions centre.   

Research at TG and TW provided the students with insights on computer simulations, medicinal chemistry, computational neuroscience, NMR Spectroscopy, imaging and traditional/non-traditional science careers.

A special thank you to all staff involved at UHN in planning the day, taking time out of their busy schedules to teach, inspire and excite a new generation of students about healthcare and how their roles impact the patients that come through our doors. 

And a final thank you to the staff in Volunteer Resources and Human Resources, to Katherine Wyslobocki in HR, to Core Catering, to Support Services, (Laundry), IPAC, Shoppers, and the Volunteers and HR interns who assisted and made the day so successful.

Kids at TW
In Medical Engineering at Toronto Western, students learned about the use and repair of machines used to support healthcare work such as the vital signs machine shown here. (Photo: UHN)

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