Selkirk College Nursing Students Build Presence Online for Community Healthcare
Tapping into an underutilized prescription for strengthening healthcare in rural British Columbia, a pair of Selkirk College Nursing Program students have laid the groundwork for bolstering healthy communities through communications-focused social media. Third-year Nursing Program students concluded practicums in late-April that focused on promoting community and societal health. From the outreach nursing program to research on poverty reduction and reducing stigma around mental health to work in Indigenous communities, learners engaged in a multitude of four-month preceptorships across the region that focus on health promotion and community empowerment.
To showcase the important role Selkirk College plays in training a skilled workforce through healthcare-related programs, students Kara Farrell and Jennifer Matthews embarked on a pilot project with Interior Health that highlights opportunities for future health careers. With emphasis on social media, the results of their efforts will roll out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter during National Nursing Week that takes place between May 10 and 16.
“It’s not the first thing that comes to mind in terms of healthcare, but social media is a phenomenal platform for providing information and resources,” says Matthews. “It is accessible to a wide range of people and using this to keep residents of our region in the loop about what is going on with healthcare makes it an important part of the system.”
Prior to being assigned to the project, both Matthews and Farrell were not active social media users. As the two learners worked through research, content creation and outcomes, they discovered the importance of using the online platforms for both recruitment into post-secondary healthcare programs and eventual employment opportunities available in the region through Interior Health.
“This project showed us that it is community in the non-traditional context,” says Farrell. “The focus of this semester is the health of populations in communities and there is a huge online community we have to consider. It really required us to be adaptable in our nursing approach in terms of connecting with this community because this is an important way to reach an audience and ultimately support people.”
Connecting with the Future of Care
A vital employer in the region, Interior Health is the ultimate destination for Selkirk College graduates in a variety of School of Health & Human Services programs that include: Nursing, Health Care Assistant, Nursing Unit Clerk, Pharmacy Technician, Gerontological Nursing, Rural Pre-Medicine and Social Service Worker. Highlighting pathways to careers, the student project placed particular emphasis on telling the story of those currently enroled in programs and how they are benefitting from the post-secondary education provided at Selkirk College.
“The future of quality healthcare is found at post-secondary institutions and building on our partnership with Interior Health will help ensure our workforce stays strong,” says Tammie Clarke, chair of the Selkirk College’s School of Health & Human Services. “The fantastic work Kara and Jennifer completed on this project has shown us where we can enhance our communication and outreach for future students, current students and those who use the healthcare system.”
Prior to their latest work experience, Farrell and Matthews had preceptorships in areas that included long-term care, medical, surgical, psychiatry, maternity and mental health. Unlike those learning discoveries, this project was primarily conducted virtually through Zoom meetings and research reports. Working with members of Interior Health’s recruitment team and the Selkirk College Communications Department, the pair took a deep dive into strategies for creating content that connects.
Reaching out to classmates in their own third-year cohort, first and second year Nursing Program students, and learners in other Selkirk College programs, Farrell and Matthews were able to discover an even deeper appreciation for the education they are receiving.
“I really learned how fortunate I am to be in the Nursing Program at Selkirk College,” says Farrell. “To have a name-to-name relationship with instructors and the close bond you get with classmates, it became even more evident as we went through this project. We received this support as we worked through the project, we received lots of responses to anything we asked. When looking at the program from the outside, you realize just how supported we are and how much the instructors really care.”
The student-driven authentic narratives put together by Farrell and Matthews will be presented for all to see in a week long social media takeover of Interior Health Facebook and Instagram during National Nursing Week that can be found at @interiorhealthbc.careers and @IHJobs or by using the hashtags #interiorhealth #IHJobs #WeAnswerTheCall #SelkirkCollege.
As third-year Nursing Program students transition into their 12-week practice rotations across Interior Health facilities and other healthcare related organizations, the behind-the-scenes work completed by Farrell and Matthews will be built upon by students in future practicums.
“The most important part is to make health care more accessible to everyone,” says Farrell. “Social media can be an effective tool of connecting people, especially in these times of COVID. It’s really important for Selkirk College as an educational institution and Interior Health as an employer to connect with people in this way.”