Helping students explore career options in mental health care

Simone Robinson, Co-operative education student from Henry Street High School in Whitby, comes to Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) every day, eager to face the patients she works with and learn more about working in mental health, while earning credit towards her high school diploma.

“Every morning I come in and give the patients breakfast. I spend a lot of time talking with them, playing games, or praying with them,” Robinson says. “The patients at Ontario Shores have inspired me to pursue a career in social work and the experience overall has inspired me in many different ways.”

Robinson sees her placement at Ontario Shores as much more than a high school credit. “Working at Ontario Shores has opened opportunities to educate my friends and eliminate stigma,” she says. Mental illness is not scary. People just want to talk with someone.”

Since launching a formal high school co-operative education program, student placements are now posted for specific areas of the hospital at participating schools across the Durham Region through the Durham District School Board, Durham Catholic School Board, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and Kawartha Pine Ridge Catholic School Board.

“The intention is to give students a sense of real world experience when it comes to the job search, as well as the application and interview process,” says Leeanne Davis, Co-operative Placement Coordinator at Ontario Shores.

All students enrolled in the co-operative education program can apply to these positions which involve a thorough application process led by the Human Resources Department at Ontario Shores. A limited number of students are accepted.

Staff from the Human Resources Department visit high schools in the community every year to connect with students and inform them about our placement opportunities within our organization

Ontario Shores offers co-op placement options in clinical and non-clinical areas including:

•    The Conference Place
•    Human Resources
•    Organizational Learning and Development
•    Plant Services
•    Central Supply and Sterile Reprocessing Capital Projects and Procurement
•    Communications and Public Affairs
•    Psychiatric Rehabilitation Infection Prevention and Control
•    Creating Opportunities Now to Achieve Community Transition
•    Nutrition and Food Services
•    Vocational Services

“We take pride in educating future healthcare professionals and watching our students evolve into active members of the Ontario Shores team,” says Karim Mamdani, Chief Operating Officer at Ontario Shores. “We welcome and encourage students to explore their career options at our hospital as they work towards completing their education and discovering their career aspirations.”

The high school co-operative education program is just one of many student-focused learning opportunities available at Ontario Shores. Others include the Mental Health Literacy program, TAMI (Talking About Mental Illness program), Psychology Practicum, Internship and Post-Doctoral Training, Medical Training, Psychiatry Residents, Mental Health Nursing Residency and International Fellowships.

With a growing awareness of mental health issues across the province, and the need for more knowledge and research in mental health care, Ontario Shores is committed to providing a supportive environment for high school students to learn, grow and gain experience that will assist them in reaching their career goals.

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