Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Baycrest Health Sciences was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Baycrest manages a 12-week paid summer research internship program, offering undergraduate students an opportunity to work in the laboratory of a Rotman Research Institute scientist -- the program also features an 8-week "Summer Rounds Series" to share advice and insight on careers in academia and research
- Baycrest created a Youth Job Shadowing Program to provide opportunities for youth volunteers to job-shadow for a day -- the program is available during the summer months and offers high school and undergraduate students a chance to meet healthcare professionals and observe their daily work environment - examples of participating vocations include speech language pathologists, social workers, pharmacists, imaging technicians, dieticians, physicians and physiotherapists
- In partnership with George Brown College, Baycrest's Centre for Education and Knowledge Exchange in Aging created "Top Chef Dysphagia", an initiative to encourage culinary management nutrition students, speech language pathologists and registered dieticians to work together to improve care and service to older adults with swallowing and nutritional issues
Bridging the generation gap at Baycrest
A world-class research and care institute for the aged is hardly the place one expects to attract a youthful workforce. But the young-old synergy at Baycrest Health Sciences helps make it an international leader in human brain research and care for the elderly, according to the institute's President and CEO, Dr. William Reichman.
"It may sound counter-intuitive, but research shows that the elderly respond positively to the presence of younger people - and vice versa," Reichman says. "For example, we know that seniors gain much more from exercise when young people are also taking part than when it is with only their older cohort."
To break down barriers that limit the younger generation's contact with their grandparents' age group, Baycrest works hard to attract juveniles, teens and university students to its 22-acre campus in Toronto. "It's a full-court press," explains Reichman. "Demographic trends compel us to attract young people to careers focusing on the world's burgeoning aging population."
Recruitment can start as early as elementary school, with pre-teen students participating in Baycrest music and art programs. High-school students are encouraged to volunteer, with some also provided the opportunity to shadow health providers, including Reichman when he leaves his desk to treat patients once a week. "We want to show young people how enriching it can be to have contact with their elders," he says.
At the university and post-graduate levels, Baycrest offers varied summer employment as well as research opportunities for some 1,000 students annually. "We attract students and recent graduates from around the globe who want to work with the world's top brain scientists," says Reichman.
One distinctive program is a partnership with Toronto's George Brown College culinary students to improve care for seniors with swallowing and nutritional issues.
Once graduates join Baycrest, the institution remains responsive to their needs. "Younger people are inquisitive, and they know what they don't know," says Reichman. "To that end, we provide them with extensive educational opportunities, including some 800 educational programs annually. Young people want to grow, and here we embrace learning and the sharing of wisdom."
Another educational opportunity comes with sponsored travel abroad. Says Reichman: "It's important to learn how others approach similar challenges, and our younger employees particularly appreciate that chance."
But above all, Reichman says young people are attracted to Baycrest because its relatively small size and the nature of its patients create a family atmosphere. "I've worked at several other healthcare institutions, and Baycrest stands alone in establishing a sense of community in the workplace," he adds. "Our patients stay longer than in an acute-care hospital so we can build strong relationships."
That community feeling is what motivates Oliver Arguelles, a Registered Nurse who works with Baycrest residents experiencing mental health issues. Arguelles, now 26, joined Baycrest as a part-time casual at 22 after completing a two-year practical nursing diploma at Humber College. His supervisor encouraged him to pursue a registered nursing degree at Ryerson University and arranged for him to receive financial support from Baycrest and a part-time schedule that fit his class schedule so he could have sufficient funds to complete his degree.
"Baycrest's support changed my life," Arguelles says. "I became the first in my family to graduate from university."
From the get-go, he has thrived on working with elderly patients. "We have so much wisdom to learn from them," he says, "and, in return, we get to show them some of the latest technological developments."
Arguelles adds he has always felt welcome into the Baycrest community, regardless of his age and relative inexperience. "It's really tight-knit, both with staff and patients," he says. "When I go to work, it doesn't seem like work - it's like going to my second family."