Museum of Health Care Summer Experience: Part 1

Beatrice testing our new program “The Biology, Control and Prevention of Waterborne Diseases”

*The following guest post is written by the Museum of Health Care’s 2012 Public Program Assistants Danielle Ruffalo and Beatrice D’Angelo.

As Public Programs Assistants, we provided tours to visitors, led education programs for schools in May and June and camps in July and August, and helped develop new programs for the Museum to run this upcoming year. Working at the Museum provided us with the opportunity to gain professional experience and develop practical and personal skills.

As Queen’s University students entering into our fourth year in History and Philosophy, respectively, it was beneficial to gain extensive research and writing experience. We learned how to write entertaining and educational programs while still being mindful of our different audiences and age groups. This job also provided us with the opportunity to work collaboratively. As Public Programs Assistants we worked as a team in conjunction with the Museum Manager to accomplish tasks and take on new projects. We also had the incredible resource of working and learning from all of the Museum staff. It was a unique opportunity to work with historical artefacts in the Museum’s collection, and learn about them first hand from the Curator.

In addition to all the practical skills we developed this summer, we were also able to pursue our own individual interests. I, Beatrice, have always been interested in improving my French skills. I am functionally bilingual, but have little opportunity during the academic year to communicate in French. The Museum provided me with an excellent opportunity to interact with francophone visitors, as well as lead tours in French. Part of my work this summer has also been to translate the Museum’s main gallery tour and programs. I am excited to be part of the Museum’s push towards bilingualism, and am looking forward to continuing to do translations for the Museum in the fall.

Danielle teaching a group of children about medicine on the war front during our “Marching Towards Medicine” Program

My summer working at the museum has provided me with excellent experience for my future career as a teacher. I, Danielle, had the opportunity to create Teacher’s Kits, which are used as a resource for educators in conjunction with the programs offered by the Museum. In order to complete this task, I had to familiarize myself with the Ontario Curriculum and am now very comfortable working with the document and creating classroom activities that are useful for the development of student skills. My experience working with children and the public had an immensely positive affect on my public speaking and presentation skills, which I am positive will help me to succeed in my aspirations of entering the field of education.

Our experience working at the Museum of Health Care would not have been so meaningful if not for our interactions with visitors on a daily basis. Visitors, often including doctors, nurses, and professors eager to share their knowledge about history or medicine, contributed to our understanding of the history of the Museum building – a former residence for the KGH School of Nursing – and the history of health care itself. KGH School of Nursing Alumnae frequently visited the Museum and were delighted to share their memories and contribute to our understanding of their remarkable careers. Some incredible examples include a 93 year-old who provided us with her personal story of serving as a nurse during the Second World War, and a colleague of Dr. Sorbey, who helped to create the Sorbey-Questor elbow replacement in Kingston, discussed in the Joint Ventures gallery. We found that as the summer went on, our delivery of the tour changed to include the new knowledge we gained from our visitors. We were able to see how deeply medicine and health resonate with all visitors, and that has enhanced our interest in the history of health care .

The Museum of Health Care would like to thank Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, Hannah Chair, History of Medicine, Queen’s University for supervising Beatrice and Danielle, and the Queen’s Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) for their support in the creation of these positions!

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