Written by Madeline Kubiseski, Master of Health Administration Student
Interview with Michelle Patrick, PLANS Program Manager
With 2018 in full swing it is time to look back and reflect on the achievements of our PLANS (Promoting Leadership in health for African Nova Scotians) program in 2017. I had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle Patrick, the program manager of PLANS, to discuss some of the highlights of the program in 2017 and for a look ahead to 2018.
Can you tell us about the successes of the PLANS program from 2017?
2017 was a great year for the PLANS program as we continue to grow and build our programs and community partnerships. Our health sciences summer camp was offered in Sydney at Cape Breton University and Antigonish at St. FX University, in addition to the original camp at Dalhousie. This year we were able to collaborate with the school of health sciences to introduce students to the field of ultrasound, radiology, nuclear medicine and respiratory therapy. In addition to the education and hands-on technical aspects of the camp, students engaged in cultural activities such as meeting with elders and community members, and an afternoon of African drumming.
The addition of PLANS assistant, Habiba Cooper Diallo, was also a highlight of 2017. Habiba has been extremely helpful in operating the PLANS social media accounts, speaking at various events such as the Teens Now Talk Xpo, and developing resources to share with students such as scholarship resources. We also had the pleasure of having Dr. Onye Nnorom speak as a guest lecturer in November. Dr Nnorom is a Family Doctor and she recently took on the position of Black Health Theme Lead for the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. While here she met with faculty leadership to discuss equity in our curriculum, met with community and students, and delivered a lecture on health equity, race and medicine.
The PLANS Prep Institute was introduced in 2017 as a post-secondary preparation program. Can you tell us about the success of this program in 2017 and how it differs from the youth summer camp?
The PLANS Prep Institute (PPI) was offered for the first time in 2017 to past camp participants and students in their final years of high school. The PPI moves away from the hands-on interactive activities and focuses more closely on the skills required to help students succeed in their post-secondary education such as time management, research and presentation skills, note taking, leadership, and goal setting. The PPI also focuses on issues of Black health and community wellness, and further explores the possible health careers in more depth. Like the health sciences camp, PPI gives students the experience of living on the school campus similar to first-year university students. For me, the highlight of these camps is reading the post camp evaluations where participants are asked if they would recommend the camp to a friend, with the majority always saying yes! Overall, the PPI was a great success and we look forward to the 2018 camp.
What are some of your goals and hopes for the PLANS programs in 2018?
One of our focuses for 2018 is to do further research on our medical school alumni to get a handle on our historical graduation rates. This will allow us to connect with them for future mentorship opportunities or events, and build on our community partnerships and collaborations. 2018 will also bring celebrations for PLANS as we congratulate more African Nova Scotian students in the health faculty graduating classes this year! We are also excited to continue the health sciences summer camp at Dalhousie, St. FX and CBU and we are looking into opportunities in other areas of the province. Additionally, we are looking into developing a more formal and structured mentorship program to help prepare and support students throughout their high school and post-secondary experiences on their journey to a career in health. Lastly, with February quickly approaching we are planning a few events for African Heritage Month which will be posted on our website soon!
For more information about our PLANS program, please visit our website or read our other blog posts featuring PLANS. For students interested in any of the PLANS programs, looking for a mentor, or interested in upcoming events, please contact Michelle Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.