Paramedic student puts knowledge into action by helping stroke victim

Left to right: Shannon Walmsley, Davis Sheridan, and Donna Walmsley.
Left to right: Shannon Walmsley, Davis Sheridan, and Donna Walmsley.

Donna Walmsley started her day on February 4, 2019 just like any other Monday, volunteering at Community Care Ennismore and running errands around town. She didn’t feel any different that morning than any other morning, but February 4th is the day Donna had a stroke.

“I was fine,” said Donna. “I went to Giant Tiger and started driving to No Frills, and then I felt like I couldn’t see.”

Donna missed her first turn into the plaza and then remembered there is a second entrance, which she managed to pull into and park. Realizing no one would notice her inside the vehicle, Donna willed herself to move.

“I opened my car door and I didn’t know if I could walk, I didn’t know if I could make it across the parking lot, but I needed to get to a public space,” said Donna, who describes the feeling as extreme dizziness. Donna made it inside the No Frills and held onto the vegetable shelves to prevent herself from falling.

Luckily for Donna, Fleming College Paramedic student Davis Sheridan was grocery shopping that day.

“I told the employees to call the Paramedics because they weren’t sure what to do. I comforted her until the ambulance came and I did a stroke assessment on her, checked her pulse, and calmed her breathing,” explained Davis, who is in his final semester at Fleming. “She felt dizzy and she couldn’t stand up, she was worried about her dog being at home and no one being there, and she also mentioned her daughter Shannon.”

When Paramedics arrived, Davis reported all of this to them.

“We are going through ride-outs right now in the Paramedic program,” said Davis, referring to the fourth-semester Paramedic Consolidation course, where students work regular shifts in an ambulance with a paramedic crew. “I am doing mine with Northumberland Paramedics right now, which is working with real patients, so this situation felt natural to me and I was comfortable. I felt very prepared through school and experience.”

Donna and her daughter Shannon are very grateful to Davis. On Monday, March 4, they visited the Paramedic Lab at Fleming’s Sutherland Campus to thank Davis in person.

“You’re going into this career and I think it’s nice to go into it having a happy story to hang on to,” said Shannon, who teased her mom when she met Davis.

“My mom loves red hair,” said Shannon.

Donna added, “Shannon said to me, ‘leave it to you to find a redhead!”

Recreation and Leisure Services placement is ‘gold’ to Keary Dean, who went to Whistler Olympic Park

keary-deanKeary Dean believes you get out of life what you put into it, which is why the Fleming College graduate chose a program that speaks to his values and could help him begin a career and education journey that’s meaningful to him.

“It seemed like a great place to start when you were, like me, unsure of what exactly to do career-wise. Because the job opportunities are so varied, it gave me room to be flexible and figure things out along the way,” said Keary of Fleming’s Recreation and Leisure Services program. “This program valued the elements of good-natured fun, leadership development and healthy living—this stuff really appealed to me. Lastly, I was sold on the potential of having an adventurous placement experience.”

In the Recreation and Leisure Services program, students learn:

  • how to manage and develop recreation programs
  • marketing and human resources
  • event management and facilities operations
  • inclusive recreation
  • research
  • leisure and lifestyle enhancement, and more.

In this program, students also develop leadership skills and gain new skills through field trips such as rock climbing, high/low rope, canoeing, kayaking, theatre, golf, swimming, caving and hiking. At the end of the program, students apply their skills in a four-month placement.

“My experience at Fleming is best described as a period of exponential personal growth, facilitated by my teachers, the courses and especially my fellow classmates,” said Keary, who graduated in 2018. “There were so many opportunities presented while at Fleming and I really made it my goal to try as many new things as I could—the old adage you get out of life what you put into it comes to mind.”

One of those opportunities was the program placement, and Keary knew just the place he wanted to spend four months…

“Because I had visited B.C. the summer prior to my final semester – and the trip made such a positive impact on me – I knew I had to go back,” he said. “If you want to have meaningful experiences, you first need to be in touch with what is meaningful to you.”

Keary said he worked hard preparing for the move and planned out all the little details before heading to B.C.

“If you have family or friends that live outside of your hometown, or you have travelled in the past, use those connections. Use your networking skills to your advantage and don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone and everyone,” said Keary on what advice he would offer current students. “Investing in travel is worthwhile and enriches your life in many ways!”

runwhistlerKeary spent his placement at Whistler Olympic Park and was later hired as Guest Service Representative, where he fit guests with cross-country and snowshoeing gear, provided equipment orientation and trail recommendations, and covered the entry booth to the Park.

“The coolest experience on the job was learning how to cross-country ski and then actually racing in a 15km event called the ‘Payak Loppet.’ I grew up snowboarding, but never skiing, and I found it thrilling learning a new sport,” he said. “Generally speaking, being way out in the wilderness, surrounded by mountains, is both awe-inspiring and humbling. It is a different lifestyle out here, people really love where they live. There is a level of enthusiasm that is undeniable.”

Keary credits Fleming College with developing his time management skills, accountability and professionalism, which are all skills he used on the job.

“Having deadlines for course work, having a weekly structure, being accountable to your classmates… these are practical skills to hone and are crucial for success in the working world,” he said.

After the summer work season ended, Keary headed to Vancouver to study nutrition at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. He plans to utilize his Fleming education and nutrition knowledge in a career as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a specialization in sports nutrition.

His advice to all students is to make self-care the number one priority. “Eat well, exercise and find creative outlets,” he said. “Take time to feel good about your daily accomplishments.”

Paramedic students will brave the cold for Polar Bear Plunge

Christian Bell, Kaitlin Glab, Demi Asselin, and Brady Wills.
Christian Bell, Kaitlin Glab, Demi Asselin, and Brady Wills.

Snow, ice and chilly weather may deter you from taking a dip in the Trent River this winter, but for a group of Paramedic students, it is an invitation to challenge themselves.

Demi Asselin, Brady Wills, Christian Bell and Kaitlin Glab are braving the cold this Saturday at Campbellford Lions Club Park for a good cause. They will be testing the waters at the 27th Annual Polar Bear Plunge, a fundraiser for Campbellford Memorial Hospital organized by the Auxiliary to the Campbellford Memorial Hospital. Money raised will go towards purchasing equipment.

“I’m scared but excited!” said Demi. “I’ve jumped out of a hot tub and into the snow before, but never a lake.”

Kaitlin, who organized the team, encouraged her friend and said it will be fun.

“I used to go to school in B.C. and I did it in October with some friends,” explained Kaitlin. “We heard about a person named Wim Hoff, who calls himself The Iceman, and submerges himself in water—so we tested it out because it’s supposed to boost the immune system. We lasted 15 minutes.”

Brady said that while he has never taken a dip during the winter, he does have wonderful memories of jumping in the lake first thing in the morning at summer camp. Brady said that the water is very cold in the early morning, even in the summer, so he’s hoping that experience will give him a competitive edge.

An article featuring past Paramedic students inspired the students to do the Polar Bear Plunge.

“There’s an article on the bulletin board (in our classroom) of Paramedic students doing it, so we want to carry on the tradition,” said Brady. “And we want to do it. It’s for a good cause.”

Christian agrees. As a former pediatric cancer patient at Kingston General Hospital, the cause is an important motivator for him. Christian is an active fundraiser, mainly for pediatrics, and recently fundraised for Make-A-Wish. Christian knows the positive impact fundraising has on hospitals and is happy to challenge himself to help Campbellford Memorial Hospital.

For those who would like to support the group at the Polar Bear Plunge, please email Kaitlin at kglab17@gmail.com.

Massage Therapy graduate Ashley Brzozowicz Dykstra wanted a healthcare career that makes a positive impact

ashley-brzozowicz-dykstra-blogAshley Brzozowicz Dykstra’s career criteria is that it is flexible, self-driven, and helps others. She decided that massage therapy met her requirements and, considering Fleming College is close to home and offers this program in a compressed two-year format, Ashley enrolled in Massage Therapy at Sutherland Campus.

Fleming’s five-semester, challenging and rewarding Massage Therapy program provides students with an excellent academic foundation and strong applied skills. Every week, students put their skills into practice at The Spa + Clinic at Fleming College, the onsite clinic supervised by a Registered Massage Therapist. The program has earned a great reputation, with a consistently high (over 90%) overall graduate employment rate.

“Working in the student clinic was by far my favourite experience of the program. It was awesome to get hands-on time working with real clients,” said Ashley. “Seeing how the practical application of everything we learned in class can make a difference to a client was very rewarding and put things into perspective for me.”

Ashley describes this Fleming College program as challenging and engaging. She also said the instructors and support staff are dedicated to ensuring students can succeed while having a good experience in the process.

“I already had experience with studying, but Fleming helped me develop my practical, hands-on skills,” she said. “There is a big difference between understanding something in a textbook or lecture and being able to apply that knowledge in a practical setting.”

After winning the top school award, School of Health & Wellness Academic Achievement Award, Ashley will be Valedictorian at the School of Health & Wellness convocation on Thursday, June 7 at 10 a.m.

“I hope people appreciate the importance of teamwork and can continue to work together after graduation,” said Ashley, on what she hopes people take away from her convocation speech.

Teamwork was a big part of Ashley’s Fleming College experience and made it a positive one for the Massage Therapy graduate.

“In my program, the students spend a lot of time together and became a dynamic team by the time we made it to the end of the program,” she said. “The instructors are also very engaged and ensure you feel like you are an important part of the program.”

After convocation, Ashley will be writing two provincial exams and completing her registration with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario. She plans on working at the 360 Wellness Clinic in downtown Peterborough.

“It is pretty amazing to be a part of a healthcare profession where people enjoy and really look forward to their appointments,” said Ashley.

University graduate Sarah Bongelli comes to college for hands-on learning experience

sarah-bongelliValedictorian Sarah Bongelli came to Fleming College looking for a sense of direction.

After graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sarah wanted to gain hands-on, real world experience through a program placement to strengthen her resume and begin a career where she could apply her love of science every day. She discovered the Biotechnology – Advanced program at Fleming College and decided it was the perfect fit.

“I am glad I went back to college, as it was challenging and provided me with more real world experience that I needed,” Sarah explained, citing mock real world exercises such as crime scene processing, court interviews, and presentations.

The Class of 2018 graduate credits the Fleming College program for helping her develop a wide range of skills that she uses every day.

“I found myself really drawing comparisons between college and university, and found that college was – in some ways – much harder than university. The hands-on experience was very valuable and that’s something that you don’t get in university,” she said.

Sarah describes her Fleming faculty as “extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful,” adding that the Sutherland Campus always has a good vibe.

“I would recommend the program, but only if you like science!” she said. “There are a lot of different avenues that you can explore after graduating and the placement is an amazing way to get your foot in the door somewhere.”

Sarah will serve as Valedictorian for the School of Health and Wellness on Thursday, June 7 at 2 p.m., as she earned the School of Health and Wellness Academic Achievement Award. This award is presented to a graduate for academic achievement and significant contribution to the Fleming College community.

“I hope that my speech inspires people to do what they love and to not be afraid of change or boundaries,” said Sarah. “Life can be tough but if you use the tools that you are given, and that you possess yourself, really anything is possible.”

Childhood hospital stay inspired Fleming grad Olivia Anderson to become a nurse

olivia-anderson-blog-photoOlivia Anderson was 13 years old when she decided she wanted to be a nurse. After being diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, Olivia underwent an 11 hour surgery to have her spine fused with titanium rods. She was bedridden in the hospital for days, unable to shower due to the incision, so when a thoughtful nurse took the time to wash Olivia’s hair, it made Olivia feel especially grateful.

“It made me feel 100 times better to have clean hair. It was such a simple thing, but it made a profound difference in how I felt during my initial recovery. I wanted to make people feel like that too,” she said.

She enrolled in Fleming College’s Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas (Class of 2015), which led her to the Practical Nursing program (Class of 2017).

“I loved my time at Fleming and I felt I really made the most of it. I was quite engaged as a student, which is a testament to the environment on campus,” said Olivia. “The community there is something special to be a part of, and it made me want to get involved and give back.”

Olivia was elected three times to Fleming Student Administrative Council, which she credits for boosting her confidence, developing her leadership abilities, and strengthening her ability to advocate for the people around her. “As a nurse, you are an advocate for your patients because you are the one who is providing the hands-on care and really get to see the whole picture,” said Olivia, explaining why this skill is applicable to her career path.

While awaiting the results of her Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination, Olivia applied to work on contract as a Fleming College Grad Recruiter for fall 2017. “I wanted to talk to future students about what a great place Fleming is and what a great nursing program they have,” said Olivia, who was hired by the College to travel across Ontario speaking to a variety of audiences about Fleming programs, services and facilities.

“A skill I really developed during my time as a Grad Recruiter for Fleming was time management. Coordinating my day around appointments, distances between them, knowing how much time I would need to set up/tear down, as well as time to complete any paper work or prepare for future events. This really taught me to see the big picture of the day and not to focus solely on the small stuff,” she said. “As a nurse, there is so much to keep on your radar throughout the day when it comes to coordinating one person’s care, but on a regular day shift you can have four to five patients all requiring a lot of your attention.”

olivia-anderson-blog-photo-2At the end of her Grad Recruiter contract, Olivia was hired by Peterborough Regional Health Centre as a Registered Practical Nurse. She is responsible for the hands-on care of medical and surgical patients, including: medications, wound care, assistance with activities of daily living, administering treatments, performing assessments, providing education and support to patients and families during someone’s hospital stay, raising concerns about a patient to the multi-disciplinary team, and more.

“The best thing about it is that you are always engaged,” said Olivia. “There is never a moment at work where I am bored. I am always on my toes, always thinking about who needs what and when, and constantly reorganizing my day around any changes to the patient’s care plan.”

Her advice to current students is to ask lots of questions, take every opportunity to gain hands-on experience, and learn from those around you and their experience.

Fitness and Health Promotion grad honours mentors through his career

kevin-wilson-2-002From his passion for basketball to his career in physiotherapy, positive mentorships have played a huge part in Kevin Wilson’s life, which is why he is giving back through the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Program Inc.

“Growing up, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by mentors my whole life. My first basketball coach mentored me for years and developed my love for the game of basketball. When I broke my patella at 12 years old, my physiotherapist inspired me to pursue the field of physiotherapy; he would go on to mentor me for years as I completed over 300 volunteer hours within his clinic,” said Kevin. “Although both have unfortunately passed away, their teachings, passion and dedication to my development has not gone in vain.”

Kevin enrolled in Fleming College’s Fitness and Health Promotion program as the first step in his education journey, because this diploma prepares many graduates to pursue a degree in Kinesiology. Kevin’s long-term academic goal is to earn a degree in Physical Therapy.

“Overall, I had a great experience at Fleming College,” said Kevin. “As a student athlete on the varsity basketball team, I loved the fact that the FHP professors were so understanding of my athletic responsibilities. I have nothing but great things to say about the college, the student life, and the professors within the FHP program.”

Kevin credits the program with challenging students to apply theoretical knowledge within a practical setting, as well as providing the necessary tools to be a successful healthcare professional.

“Whether you decide to work as a personal trainer or decide to continue with more schooling, the knowledge received in this program will be utilized for many years following graduation,” said Kevin, who graduated from Fleming in 2014. “To put things into perspective, I am still using the majority of what I was taught in the FHP program.”

After Fleming College, Kevin attended Brock University for Kinesiology and started his own personal training and physical rehabilitation business.

“The FHP program at Fleming gave me the confidence needed to start my own business,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about what it takes to successfully run and manage my own business, and I wanted to earn some income while in school to assist with tuition costs, living expenses, etc. Although not yet a physiotherapist, I wanted to create my own brand and to establish myself as a healthcare professional. I understand the value and benefits of being self-employed, and I hope to enjoy these benefits throughout my entire working career.”

Kevin graduated from Brock University in 2017 and in January of this year he started the National Basketball Youth Mentorship Program (NBYMP) to give back and to promote overall success and health, which is something Kevin views as important as both a future physiotherapist and as a human being.

“I plan to influence the lives of as many youth as possible, similar to how my mentors have influenced my life,” said Kevin. “There are many youth who struggle to find the resources needed to be successful and I hope that, through my program, they can find their path and purpose in life.”

NBYMP is a national youth mentorship program that aims to provide a holistic approach to personal development for basketball athletes under the age of 19. Youth enrolled in this newly-formed program will have access via email to mentorship from high-level Canadian professional and university basketball athletes, online academic assistance from students and graduates of Harvard University, financial advising and development from licensed financial advisors; and access to strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists, and sports psychologists. Registration is free, but basketball camps, workshops and academic tutoring do have associated fees.

“My hope is that hundreds, and eventually thousands, of kids utilize this mentorship program to achieve great things, both on and off the basketball court. I hope to provide full scholarships for dozens of youth entering college/university programs, and I hope to use this platform to promote the overall health and wellness of youth and individuals across Canada.”

Kevin said his advice to current Fleming FHP students is to soak in all the information, ask their professors lots of questions, and to set long-term goals.

“I will be going back to school this September (2018) to study physiotherapy and this was something that I planned to do even while at Fleming,” he said. “Set a long-term goal and use that as motivation to get you through this program and future programs or ventures.”

Fitness and Health Promotion provides a stepping stone to university for Haily Whitelock

Version 2Haily Whitelock’s high school co-op placement at a physiotherapy clinic is what inspired her to pursue a career helping people with their fitness goals. Unsure whether being a physiotherapist was the best fit, or if there was a better suited career opportunity in the health field, Haily decided to enrol in Fleming’s Fitness and Health Promotion program to explore her options.

“I would recommend this program to anyone interested in the health field. I believe it is a good starting program for those who are unsure of which direction to take,” said Haily, who graduated from the Fitness and Health Promotion program in 2017. “With the bridging opportunities available through this program, there are plenty of opportunities to continue onto other fields of study.”

Haily developed her interest in physiotherapy and rehab treatments throughout the program and decided to take advantage of Fleming’s education pathway agreement with the University of Guelph-Humber. She was able to enter third-year of the Bachelor of Applied Science in Kinesiology program and plans to graduate in 2019.

“With this opportunity, I had the option to take both fitness and health, and work towards my kinesiology bachelor’s degree,” she said. “I have talked to many employers and business owners and they are looking for graduates who have been to both college and university, as they believe college provides candidates with skills while universities give them an adequate background in the areas of study.”

Haily enjoyed her experience at Fleming College, describing her professors as helpful and enthusiastic to answer questions. “With small class sizes, it is a great learning environment where you can feel comfortable amongst peers and engage in class discussions freely,” she explained. “I feel in bigger schools they are limited to this kind of engagement, as the class sizes are huge and it can be intimidating speaking up to start a discussion in a big lecture room.”

She felt well-prepared for university after attending college, having developed her study techniques, ability to write helpful class notes, meet project deadlines, and prepare for exams. For that reason, Haily credits Fleming for being a great stepping stone to university.

“Fleming is a lot different from high school, there is still a lot of responsibility you have to take, but the professors are always there to help when needed and, being small class sizes, it is easy to connect with your professors,” she said. “In university, the class sizes are much bigger and in order to make an impression on your professor you need to put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone.”

After she graduates from the University of Guelph-Humber, Haily plans to write the kinesiology exam to become a regulated kinesiologist. She hopes to continue her studies and earn her master’s degree in either occupational therapy or physiotherapy.

Olivia Anderson is excited to travel Ontario for Fleming College

olivia-andersonOlivia Anderson looks forward to sharing information about Fleming College with prospective students after she completed two programs at the college. Olivia was hired by Student Recruitment to work as a Grad Recruiter, travelling the province speaking to a variety of audiences about Fleming programs, services and facilities.

“I am really looking forward to meeting students interested in the Nursing program, and sharing my experience and advice with them on things I wish I had known before I started the program,” said Olivia, who took Fleming’s (what is now called the) Pre-Health Sciences Pathway to Certificates and Diplomas (2015), which led her to the Practical Nursing program (2017). “Hopefully I can make their transition into college an easier and more enjoyable experience.”

Olivia has wanted to be a Grad Recruiter since last year, when she saw Fleming College Facebook Page posts on the 2016 Grad Recruiters, Emily, Kyle and Kelly, and their adventures that fall.

“The idea of traveling Ontario, meeting perspective students and sharing my Fleming experience with them seems like an absolute blast to me,” she said. “I love Fleming, so I’m excited to inspire other students to come here and make the most of their college experience.”

One of the things Olivia loves most about Fleming College is the close-knit community. “I can’t walk through the halls without seeing someone I know and stopping for a quick chat. Everyone is very friendly here and it makes this campus a very enjoyable place to be,” she said. “The faculty here truly care about your success here and want to get to know you as more than just a number.”

Olivia also loves living in Peterborough, which she describes as having all of the amenities of a city but with a laid-back, natural environment. Her favourite spot on campus is the Student Administrative Council office, which has a beautiful view of the forest. “It also has a constant flow of people, so you can meet some very interesting people from many of the different programs in the school,” she added.

The best thing Olivia learned from Fleming College, she said, was that there is more to life than academics. “Which sounds funny since I learned this while attending an academic institution,” she said. “The opportunity to volunteer, travel, organize student events, be a voice for students, be a part of committees and more has taught me things no book could ever describe. I have learned many unteachable life skills through my experiences at Fleming, most of which took place outside of the classroom.”

Valedictorian Andrew Vatcher strengthens self-confidence through Fitness and Health Promotion

andrew-vatcherThe Fitness and Health Promotion program not only strengthened Valedictorian Andrew Vatcher’s physical abilities, it strengthened his self-confidence as well.

“Fleming College was a place of great personal growth and development for me,” said Andrew. “I came into school as a confident exterior with a very negative inner self-image. Through great learning and leadership, I obtained the confidence within and self-efficacy that I so desperately lacked. I have learned so much about health and fitness, but even more about myself and view on life.”

His most memorable moment was his first day of college, when faculty member Mary Stever asked students to assemble into two lines facing each other and introduce themselves.

“I can, to this day, recall where fellow classmates stood and where along the line we first met. It was a small thing at the time but looking back on it I can’t help but to smile,” said Andrew.

Andrew initially came to Fleming to better his physical abilities and overall knowledge in different principles of fitness. Through the Fitness and Health Promotion program, Andrew gained skills that span from workout-related abilities (designing and assessing programs, coaching, training) to working with clients who have special needs.

“I have gained a greater ability to speak in front of people with confidence and joy,” said Andrew, who recommends the program to others. “I have learned self-discipline and the integral value of accountability.”

Andrew plans on continuing his education by earning an undergraduate degree in strength and conditioning. His long-term goal is to be a Strength and Conditioning Coach for a professional sports team.

Next week he will take the stage at the Peterborough Sport & Wellness Centre for the School of Health and Wellness afternoon convocation, where he will serve as Valedictorian.

“I put a lot of myself into my time at Fleming and have developed so many great relationships with friends and faculty, so it is incredibly wonderful to be recognized in such a way,” said Andrew on being named Valedictorian.

“It is so much more than just a diploma,” said Andrew. “In fact, I feel that the things outside the course content are every bit as valuable.”