Section 5: Workshop Content
Workshops are the core of the RHSV and the activities can be as varied as the many health professions out there!
Brainstorming before the visit should consider what’s the main goal of the visit?
- exploring different health careers and what each of them do
- emphasising the importance of staying in school
- showing students university or TAFE is an attainable goal
- give practical information on scholarships, moving away from home and getting into universities
- or just having lots of hands-on fun and connecting with future health professionals in a casual setting.
Group dynamics are going to be very different in an excited group of grades 4 to 6 students compared to year 11 or 12 students thinking seriously about university. Tailor the sessions to suit the mood of the students and be adaptable. Occasionally groups of students or individuals will be unengaged with the session from the very beginning, which can be very disheartening however often the hands-on sections are super helpful to regain their attention. Flexibility is the key of the visit and volunteers should be briefed on this prior – because even if nothing goes to plan but the kids still have fun it was a successful visit. We are just trying to show the students how much fun tertiary study can be and how much your volunteers love their degrees.
- The visit isn’t a lesson. If the kids learn something that’s great but the main idea is to show how interesting and diverse the health industry is.
- If you or your volunteers are early in their degrees and still a little uncertain about things specific to their career – try to focus on other things such as moving out of home, living in a new place or making friends in a bigger city.
What to consider during the planning
Visits can be structures in many ways considering:
- your group of RHC volunteers - how many you have compared to the number of students, which health professions you have represented, how each of them got into university, their backgrounds (rural, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander)
- the setting - classroom, outdoor area, gymnasium
- time allocated for the RHSV
- the age of the kids and how many students
- language or cultural barriers.
Splitting up the group - how do I manage so many kids?
Workshops can be run in so many ways and it can be a bit overwhelming to try and plan if you’ve never been to one before or had much to do with kids. Below are some ideas on how to split up the group and run the session.
- Whole group introduction with general information and then splitting the group into 3, 4, or 5 groups and rotating through different stations
- This can be great in bigger groups and when you have enough volunteers. Usually 1-2 volunteers are enough to run a station for 5-6 kids. Stations could be hands-on or informative – having a good mix of both keeps students excited.
- Big case discussion or roleplay with active input from the students
- Possibly a good option for shorter time sessions, small classrooms or with limited volunteers. Make sure to keep the class engaged.
- Split the class into 2 having one group hands-on and the other group as an information station
- Maybe tailor this to the older students with more interest in career pathways or university entrance criteria. Might be a good option if volunteers are limited.
- Big group introduction of all the volunteers – degree, getting into university, background – and then letting students approach who they would like to speak to
- This could be great when you have a diverse group of volunteers but make sure to have something hands-on to keep the students engaged.
TOP TIP - Always have a backup game or activity that 1-2 volunteers can run with the whole group very easily. This is your safety net if everything goes wrong or if the other volunteers need time to set up! Plan something age-appropriate, easy and make sure if you need extra equipment to bring it along.
TOP TIP – Splitting up groups and getting students organised can take a lot longer than you might anticipate – try not to get frustrated or stressed with timing! Students are more likely to remember a few activities planned well and with enough time to enjoy them than a completely jam-packed session.
Kids enjoy learning about things that are relatable to them, such as in child and adolescent health. Ask the school if there is anything the students would be interested in, or is a current concern in the community. Consider reaching out to other clubs on campus, other RHCs in your region or the NRHSN for spare equipment or more ideas than those listed below.
Consider tying in health careers with each activity:
- Asthma – how to use a puffer and spacer.
- Anaphylaxis – what’s an EpiPen and how can we use it? (again, some companies are happy to send trainer pens without needles to practice).
- Broken bones – plastering (NB - don't put on full circumferential casts. These can set hard, and then the poor kid needs to make a trip to ED to get it taken off) or slings, and sprained ankle strapping.
- Blood pressure and heart checks – using a blood pressure cuff and stethoscopes.
- Basic first aid – DRSABCD in a scenario, CPR simulation with a dummy.
- Diabetes – when lollies can be a lifesaving treat! (introduction to blood sugars, insulin).
- Neurological problems – knee, ankle, bicep reflexes are fun and a great way to talk generally about the nervous system. Pupil reflexes with a pen torch.
- Strokes – get the students to prepare and taste thickened fluids while talking about the job of a speech pathologist. FAST recognition for stroke in older students.
- Healthy eating – food pyramid and apple slinkies.
- Surgical knot tying – who can tie the most knots one handed? (need shoe-laces/thick string and somewhere to anchor them like a wooden board or backs of chairs).
- Muscle stimulation – TENS machine to get muscles twitching and see how different groups of muscles work.
- Hand washing – are kids washing their hands properly? (UV lights and UV fluorescent hand wash – available online inexpensively).
- Stool charts – Playdough for younger students! When would we need to look at someone’s stool to keep them healthy? (how nurses are an incredibly vital part of the healthcare team).
- Snake bites and stings – How to use a compression bandage and snake bite/ sting scenario.
- Anatomy model (Gutsy Gus) Fun facts/questions about the human body. Which group can put him back together the quickest?
- Mental health – What does it mean to be mentally healthy? How can we start conversations with friends we’re worried about? What do psychologists and counsellors do?
- Dress ups – bring along some scrubs and some patient gowns with printed out cards of different health professionals for each student.
- Dentistry – Teach dental hygiene. Approach a local dentist or supplier for samples of toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Information sessions - what information do students want?
This will depend on the age of the students and where the next few years might take them. Here are some ideas for topics:
- Myth busting session – what don’t different health professions do?
- There’s more than just doctors and nurses! Who else makes up the health care team?
- University isn’t for me – different ways to get into health professions such as Tafe.
- Moving out of home – what’s out there to help? Centrelink, scholarships, working while studying.
- What grades do I need for each course? Talk about how to search for the same courses at different universities, look at prerequisites and find cut offs. Maybe think about linking in with the career’s counsellor at the school so students know who to talk to.
- What extra support is there for rural or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students? So many programs all over the country just focused on helping students like you get where you want to go.
- Should I stay in school? How continuing education helps not only you but your whole community.
- Health professionals aren’t scary! Younger kids to talk about why they maybe don’t want to go see doctors or dentists or other allied health and try to break down misconceptions.
- What do you want out of a job? Do you want to work on your own or in a team? When do you want to work – shift work, overnights, school hours? What would make you happy everyday – helping people?
- Where could a health career take you? Don’t forget to show some exciting photos or stories of travel/placements in Australia or overseas!