Take Our Kids to Work Day returns to UHN

​​In a treatment room at the Hand & Plastics Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital, orthopedic technologists Domenic Girgenti, (L), and Stacy Baker-Smith make casts on the wrists of Grade 9 students as part of UHN Take Our Kids to Work Day 2023, which took place on Wednesday, November 1. (Photo: UHN)

The kids came back.

For the first time in four years, the Grade 9 students of TeamUHN members were welcomed at four sites on Wednesday, November 1 as part of UHN Take Our Kids to Work Day 2023. More than 150 students took part in a range of activities at Toronto General and Toronto Western hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Toronto Rehab, University Centre.

“We are so excited to have brought back the Take Our Kids to Work Day programs,” says Michael Cousineau, Director of Talent Acquisition, Volunteer Resources & Graduate Careers at UHN.

Organized by Volunteer Resources and involving an estimated 80 TeamUHN members, including UHN Volunteers, People & Culture interns, Environmental & Support Services, Core Catering, and clinical and research staff from the sites, the program offered a glimpse at a wide range of activities happening every day at UHN.

“It’s great to have our Grade 9 students witness and experience the impactful and meaningful work done in health care,” Michael says. “With a full day of in-depth experiences offered by our dedicated professionals, we hope to inform and empower them about many different career choices.

“This is also UHN’s opportunity to help our children better understand not only what we do, but why we do it.”

A photo of diseased lungs and a group of students observing.
In the Surgical Pathology Lab at Toronto General Hospital, pathologists’ assistant Lester McDonald shows students the diseased lungs of a patient who had a successful lung transplant. (Photo: UHN)

Take Our Kids to Work Day is an annual career exploration event held in Canada every November. An initiative of The Learning Partnership, it was started in 1994 in the Greater Toronto Area but now spans the country. It began at UHN in 2006 as a corporate initiative led by People & Culture.

At each of the four UHN sites involved, Grade 9 students began the day with an introduction and orientation to the organization from a TeamUHN leader. Throughout the rest of the day, different experiences and activities were offered based on what typically goes on at that hospital.

The aim is to involve as many areas as possible at the sites, with programs and services to highlight the scope of the amazing work done by TeamUHN members. The visiting students also learn from staff about the educational requirements for the specific role being discussed and the impact it has within the hospital. Each site also offered the Grade 9s a variety of hands-on learning experiences.

“It’s been great,” Joseph F., 14, a student at St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School in Richmond Hill, said after the morning session wrapped up at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre with a presentation by music therapist Dr. Sarah Rose Black. “It’s very informative and we get to ask lots of questions.

“It’s great to explore and learn how everything here works.”

Dr. Ornela Kijakic toured students through the Challenging Environmental Assessment Laboratory (CEAL) and 12 th floor research labs, which are part of UHN's KITE Research Institute at Toronto Rehab
Dr. Ornela Kijakic toured students through the Challenging Environmental Assessment Laboratory (CEAL) and 12 th floor research labs, which are part of UHN’s KITE Research Institute at Toronto Rehab, University Centre. (Photo: UHN)

TeamUHN members in clinical, research, support and administrative roles made presentations to the students. The activities included tours of research labs, discussions on various forms of therapy – including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, therapeutic recreation and music therapy.

There were also sessions at different sites on a variety of topics from numerous departments, including: Wellness, Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC), Nutrition, Facilities, Pharmacy, Energy and Environment, Medical Imaging, the Ajmera Transplant Centre, Radiation Medicine, the Medical Device Reprocessing Department, Eye & Facial Prosthetics, the Emergency Department, Pathology, Respiratory, Mood Disorders, the Memory Clinic, Social Work and the Hand & Plastics Clinic.

“We learned a lot about research, and they did a great job of explaining what they do,” said Liana M., 14, a student at St. Ignatious of Loyola Catholic Secondary School in Oakville, who spent the day at Toronto Rehab, University Centre. “I got a lot of new information.”

Aarar P., 14, who spent the day at Toronto General Hospital, says he wasn’t looking to make a career choice but just soak in the information. His highlights included learning about organ transplantation and how germs spread, as well as the importance of physical and mental wellbeing.

“It’s been a good day,” the West Humber Collegiate Institute student said. “I’ve learned a lot about the hospital and many of the interesting things going on in it.”

CT scanner
Medical imaging technologist Victoria Lee at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre demonstrates a computed tomography (CT) scan with the help of a student. (Photo: UHN)

Audrey R., 14, a student at University of Toronto Schools, says she enjoyed all the interactive activities during her day at Toronto Western Hospital, including hand hygiene, taking blood pressure in the Emergency Department and being outfitted with a cast in the Hand & Plastics Clinic.

Audrey says it was also great to hear about all the other careers in health care besides doctors and nurses.

“I feel like we don’t necessarily hear about those as much,” she said. “So, it was nice to learn about them, too.”

A special thank you to all members of TeamUHN who were involved in the return of this extraordinary day. We appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedule to plan, teach, inspire and excite a new generation of students about opportunities in health care, and how their work impacts the patients who come through the doors at UHN.

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