Health Sciences

Inspiring the Next Generation: Career Day at William Whyte School

June 16, 2022

For the past 4 years, Krystal Boyce-Gaudreau has taken part in Career Day at William Whyte School. She presents usually to Grade 7 / 8 students, many of whom come from the disadvantaged, core area households. With a personal connection to this school, as her sister also teaches there, Krystal feels deeply motivated to encourage students to pursue their dreams. Highlighting her career of nursing and a variety of nursing programs is one example of how she hopes to inspire students to pursue their passions and to let them know of supports available to them.

Meet Krystal: An RRC / U of M JBN grad of 2002, Krystal worked as an RN BN at Concordia Emergency until 2013, as well as completing her Masters of Nursing (U of M) in 2013. At this time, she began her career at RRC Polytech where she continued to share her passion and leadership in a variety of nursing instructor roles. Krystal has taught in courses from Pharmacology and Diagnostics to Health Assessment 1 and 2, Discipline 4, and most recently developed and taught an elective on Substance Use Disorders and Nursing Care. During the pandemic, she also helped to develop the Health Care Support Worker micro-credential course, taught vaccine administration, AND picked up shifts in vaccine clinics!

How does a nurse prepare for a Career Day presentation? Krystal developed a 1.5 hour presentation including a Powerpoint presentation, Q & A, and the students’ favourite part … experiential – where students can see/touch/use equipment borrowed from RRC Poloytech’s nursing lab (thanks to Jennifer Johnson). Krystal uses student volunteers to teach about CPR and AED machines using role plays with an adult mannequin torso.  Demonstrating how to take vitals using the oximeter and thermometers, listening to heart sounds with stethoscopes – these are always a big hit with the students.

Some of the main points that Krystal always shares:

1) Her own lived experience and struggles in school and how a great teacher in grade 6 believed in her and helped her. She encourages students to not to let things define or limit them… but to believe in themselves.

2) To educate students about what nurses DO and that we CARE about them. Also, that nurses are great people to seek out for help or support.

3) To encourage, support, and inspire students to dream about their careers and their future.

How do the students react? They are nervous and shy at first but then begin to open up and ask questions like: ”Have you ever seen someone die?…delivered a baby?…how hard was schooling? – how much did it cost? – how much do you make?!” They often want to share their own healthcare / hospital family experiences. The kids are also surprised by how much money nurses make AND they get really excited when listening to their own heartbeats and learning what the heart does.

A few final thoughts:

Feeling motivated to speak to a student or group of students? Maybe plant a seed or inspire a young mind to dream? A couple of tips: when doing a Career Day talk for students, make sure to have fun and ensure the information being shared is at the students’ level. Krystal shares that for her, “nursing is an awesome career with lots of opportunities for you to really pursue any passion and any direction!”

Written by Tanya Cole RN BScN, RRC Polytech Nursing Instructor