TAJO students discover the diversity of jobs available at Maria Middelares General Hospital

On Saturday, 11 June 2022, Maria Middelares General Hospital welcomed approximately 20 students from the second year TAJO (Talent Studio for Young People in Ghent). These sixth-grade youth were introduced to the various professional opportunities in health care and gained initial hands-on experience. During three different ‘workshops’ (ultrasound, pulmonary function measurement, cleaning case) they were able to do actual work under the guidance of volunteer physicians and hospital staff.

TAJO is a Ghent-based non-profit organisation that introduces young people between the ages of 10 and 14 to a variety of professions, as well as the skills and talents necessary for each profession. TAJO stands for experiential learning. ‘We’re working on the theme of sciences during the months of May and June, and on 11 June, we visited Maria Middelares General Hospital to put theory into practice. A tangible experience that stimulates the interest of our young people, that is what we are aiming for’, explains Colien Demeyer, educational coordinator for the TAJO non-profit organisation.

‘By showing the huge variety of departments, services and positions in a modern, high-tech environment like that of Maria Middelares General Hospital, we hope to have sparked young people's interest in health care and/or science.’ Even more: ‘Because at TAJO, what we aim for is taking independent step in society.’

Health care as an attractive sector

Initiator Dr Carole De Cock believes heart and soul in the project. ‘It was a unique opportunity to give young people exposure to many interesting aspects of working in health care. After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19, we were finally able to offer the insight into how we all provide Compassionate Care.’

The programme included two medical and one non-medical workshop, with the focus on 'doing'. Cardiologist Dr Delphine Vervloet supervised an ultrasound workshop where the young people, after being introduced to the device by the physician, were allowed to take an ultrasound of each other's hearts. Pneumologist Dr Carole De Cock was happy to make time to introduce them to the device that measures patients' pulmonary function, after which the teens were able to measure their own pulmonary function.

‘It is also important to know that everyday there are a lot of people working behind the scenes in the hospital’, adds Karin Valckenier, the head of cleaning and distribution services at Maria Middelares General Hospital. ‘Support services such as cleaning, the kitchen team, the technical department or the purchase and distribution of goods and materials, etc. are less visible to the patient, but they are at least as important and absolutely necessary for quality care.’ For this reason, the third workshop introduced the young people to some hygienic requirements and cleaning cases, which follow a well-defined procedure, always using the necessary technology.