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Showing a virtual conference image of workshop leaders
Discovery Days at Hamilton Health Sciences is a virtual event for high school students to explore different areas of the healthcare industry and how research can be part of each career.
June 10, 2021

Inspiring future healthcare researchers

On Thursday, June 3, in partnership with the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) hosted a virtual “Discovery Days in Health Sciences” event for high school students.

The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame partners with university and medical institutions across the country to host the Discovery Days events, and invites local high schools to send students who have expressed an interest in health sciences. The partner university or medical institution provides the programming for the event.

“I always have great interest when reaching out to our experts about taking part in the event,” says Daniela Bianco, manager, research development & relations at HHS. “You can tell they not only want to share what they’re passionate about, but inspire students to not just enter the healthcare industry, but find ways to change it through research.”

The HHS event has been running for eight years and has always been a popular choice for students to attend. It’s a little different than those run in other cities as it’s the HHS research administration team that develops the content.

Attending Discovery Days

headshot of Dr. Salim Yusuf with the quote "Never shy away from solving big problems or answering big questions"

With healthcare as a large part of the Hamilton community, the HHS team works closely with McMaster University and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to ensure the best experience possible for the students.

The event kicked off with a “Message to my teenage self” from Dr. Salim Yusuf, executive director, Population Health Research Institute, a joint research centre of HHS and McMaster University. This was followed by the keynote lecture from Dr. Lehana Thabane, vice president, research, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Professor and associate chair, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University.

“I was honoured to be invited and truly felt privileged to share my story,” says Dr. Thabane. “I wish I had something like this when I was in high school.”

There were also 14 workshops available run by HHS experts in areas such as sepsis, dementia, nursing, orthopedic surgery, and Autism. As experts from organizations that values mentorship and education, all the speakers enthusiastically made their workshops interactive and fun for students.

Switching to a virtual event

Since this year’s event was the first to be run virtually, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame had noticed attendance numbers to be a bit lower in other cities, but the HHS event actually had the highest attendance it’s ever seen. The previous in-person event had capacity limits, but as a virtual event, that was no longer an issue and more than 330 students registered.

Workshop graphic for the nursing workshop "Everything is pulse-able: The Possibilities of Nursing"

An example of one of the interactive virtual workshops available to students.

“The Hamilton event is always a popular one,” says Lissa Foster, executive director, Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. “We ask students to fill out a quick survey before and after the event and feedback is always very positive. It’s apparent that the students have been inspired, and despite the challenge of moving the event to a virtual platform this year, the impact was the same.”

Continuing to inspiring students

The HHS research administration team does all they can to make the event informative and inspiring to help students choose their future academic studies. The event has already resulted in some students expressing interest in volunteering with HHS research experts.

“It’s important that we shed some light on the different fields available to students as well as inspire them to pursue research,” says Bianco. “Students don’t realize that through research they have the potential to make impactful changes in healthcare.”

With a successful virtual event, HHS hopes to continue with this format. In the future however, The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame hopes to offer both in-person and virtual events. The in-person option can offer more interaction, while the virtual option allows more students to attend, including those from more remote areas that may not have the option to attend in-person.