Pre-med students LHEARNing at UOIT

Alysha Persaud, left, and Riley Larmour are both in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at UOIT. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Pre-medical students at UOIT don’t reap the benefits of a medical school on campus, but that doesn’t stop their learning opportunities.

Simulation labs at UOIT and a partnership with Lakeridge Health are preparing students for careers in medicine.

Ironically, attempts were made a decade to push for a medical school for UOIT.

In 2008, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between Queen’s University, UOIT and Lakeridge Health. It seemed as if UOIT could have a medical school in the coming years, but the plans never materialized and the school was never built.

However, the MOU did initiate a strong partnership between UOIT and Lakeridge Health Oshawa. This allows UOIT students a nearby and advanced place to do placement.

Students like Riley Larmour don’t mind not having a medical school on campus. She is a second-year student in the bachelor of science in nursing collaborative program.

She graduated high school in Brooklin as one of the top academic achievers in her class and decided to pursue her post-secondary education at UOIT.

She just finished her second clinical rotation at Lakeridge Oshawa in the paediatric ward.

“It’s just nice to have a hospital so close that provides enriched learning experiences for their students,” Larmour says.

In her first year, all foundational courses were taught in the simulation lab at UOIT. She says it felt like a hospital.

Larmour says doing simulations in the lab helped her with her skills.

“You want to feel like you’re confident in your skills before you get out and into the environment where you’re working with actual people,” she says.

UOIT’s simulations labs are just one aspect of training for students.

Lakeridge Health in partnership with Queen’s University opened the Lakeridge Health Education and Research Network (LHEARN) Centre to the public in 2014.

The centre houses some of the most advanced research technology available in medicine. This includes a simulation robot that can give birth and an aging suit meant to simulate to the wearer the affects of old age.

UOIT students are among post-secondary students from several institutions who are accessing the LHEARN Centre to enhance their education.

Dr. Lori Livingston, dean of the faculty of Health Sciences at UOIT, says students who are looking to pursue health-related careers benefit from their experience at LHEARN and Lakeridge Oshawa.

“Just becoming familiar with an environment like that is the first step in learning,” Livingston says.

Medical professionals are able to come into the classroom to speak to students about what they do, Livingston says.

Research opportunities and event collaborations are also part of the relationship between UOIT and LHEARN.

“The LHEARN gives us an opportunity to take ourselves outside of the walls of the institution and immerse ourselves more in the day-to-day environment,” Livingston says.

Alysha Persaud, a second-year student in the bachelor of science in nursing collaborative program, moved to the Oshawa area from Mississauga, choosing UOIT’s nursing program over the University of Toronto.

Persaud did her orientation at the LHEARN centre and says there is also a library students have access to when they do orientation and placement.

“It’s a great place to study, it’s a great place to learn from other health-care professionals,” she says, “It is definitely a place to kind of get into your element.”

Persaud has wrapped up this semester in the paediatrics ward. Blood work and X-rays are done within the ward and Persaud says it feels like a mini-hospital in itself.

“I think having these different experiences are really beneficial in finding where you want to fit when you graduate,” she says.

As for her medical future, Persaud is looking to become a nurse practitioner.

“The program definitely prepares you to pursue…further education,” she says.