Preparing future African Nova Scotian health professionals

Thursday, November 27, 2014 - 11:23am

Shelina Gordon knew, as she pursued her degree in social work, that her new profession was underrepresented by African Nova Scotians.

“At times I was the only black student in class,” she said. “It was overwhelming, but with that education I have found a very gratifying profession in health care.”

Gordon, a native of North End Halifax and a past student of the Transition Year Program (TYP) at Dalhousie University, spoke to 21 students from grades 8 to 11 recently at the George Dixon Centre during a recent event organized by Anna Jacobs, Community Development Advisor, Diverse Communities, Shauna Crawley Jordan, a registered nurse with the Community Health and Wellness Centre in North Preston and Michelle Patrick, a program coordinator at Dalhousie University. Also involved were the IWK Health Centre, Health Association of African Canadians, Association of Black Social Workers and community health boards.

The event, called “Striving,” encourages youth to think about the health-related career opportunities available to them and allows students to see that they can be successful.

Students learned about potential professions in occupational therapy, dietician, social work, registered massage therapy, dental hygiene and nursing among others.
Gordon gave her own experiences as an example of what education and a career in health care can offer.

Gordon enrolled in the TYP program, which is available to African Nova Scotians to prepare students who do not yet meet Dalhousie entrance requirements. The program offers history, math and English courses and covers tuition costs.

After Gordon successfully completed the TYP program, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and landed a job as a research co-ordinator at Dalhousie University.

She returned to school once more for social work. Now, she is focusing most of her time in African Nova Scotian communities working with programs such as Ceasefire and the Soul Strong Society.

“I love going to work knowing that not every day will be the same,” Gordon told the students. “In social work you have the choice of working in various environments, like a clinical setting, a child welfare setting, the hospital or the government.”

Student left the discussion enlightened and informed about the potential health care careers available to them.

Of the event evaluations, 55 per cent of students said yes, they will seriously give more consideration to a job in health now.

Learn more about CDHA CH 08-076 Diversity in Employment policy.