Discovery Day 2011: Opening a window onto careers in science

Discovery Day: Hands-on science experiences help young students direct their future studies. / Photo: Owen Egan

By McGill Reporter Staff

More than 200 students from 26 high schools and CEGEPS across Montreal got a taste of what it’s really like to be a scientist at the TD Discovery Day in Health Sciences on Dec. 6. The one-day event was organized by The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (CMHF) and hosted by the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), the McGill Faculty of Medicine, and the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

The CMHF offers Discovery Days at eleven universities across the country, involving over 2,200 students every year.

“Discovery Day exposes students to a vast array of career options in the health sciences, including possibilities they may never knew existed,” said Janet Tufts, Executive Director of the CMHF, who has attended more than 50 Discovery Days across Canada since 2006. “Over and over, we see life-altering decisions made at Discovery Days as students interact with and are inspired by health professionals who are passionate about their work.”

The day kicked off at The Neuro with the keynote address “Me, and how I got to be here” by Dr. Phil Gold, 2010 Hall of Fame Laureate and Executive Director Clinical Research Centre, McGill University Health Centre.

Following the lecture, students dispersed across campus to attend a series of interactive, hands-on workshops. In a workshop on the human spine, students used real surgical instruments and artificial bones to stabilize the spine, and performed biomechanical testing to study the suitability of new implants. In another, participants took on the role of disease detectives to investigate an outbreak so they could learn to identify clues and formulate hypotheses about the relationship between risk factors and disease.

The day wrapped up with a lively career panel discussion, “Health Pros Tell All,” giving students the opportunity to ask a variety of health professionals about their work, how they got to where they are today and what drives them to continue.

“Stimulating the curiosity of our youth is an important aspect of the Faculty of Medicine’s teaching mission. Discovery Day gives young Quebecers the chance to meet with leading physicians, allied health professionals and researchers from the Faculty and hospital community, in their work settings, to learn first-hand what a career in the health sciences is about,” said Dr. Sam Benaroya, Interim Vice Principal (Health Affairs) and Interim Dean, Faculty of Medicine.