Working for the Museum of Health Care (summer 2013)

The following blog post was written by Julia Blakey, summer 2013 Public Program Assistant 

This summer, I was fortunate to be one of two students selected to work as Public Programs Assistants at the Museum of Health Care as part of the Student Work Experience Program (SWEP). As a Public Programs Assistant, I was jointly responsible for running tours and educational programs for families, school and camp groups, and as other members of the public, as well as aiding in the marketing of these programs. I also co-conspired, co-wrote, and co-executed a new family program about epidemics throughout history; it was a thoroughly educational and exciting process and I am very proud of the finished product.

Julia during one of the sessions of "Outbreak: Diseases throughout History," a program she co-develop
Julia during one of the sessions of “Outbreak: Diseases throughout History,” a program she co-developed

Working at the Museum was a really exciting chance to step outside my areas of knowledge. I really threw myself into learning and researching my interests relating to history of medicine; I read a lot of academic journals, textbooks, and other resources about medicine and medical history. This research culminated in an upcoming blog post about female hysteria treatments. As someone that is interested in sexual health, female representation, gender identity and expression, and sexuality, I really appreciated the creative leeway in pursuing research endeavours that coincided with my own interests. From what I know of other summer student positions, this kind of opportunity to have any sort of creativity when choosing projects is unique. I hope to integrate what I have learned into other applicable projects as part of my studies, as well as with my own personal reading.

Undoubtedly, my favourite part about working at the Museum this summer was working with and learning from the other summer students. The professional collaboration I experienced with my co-Public Programs Assistant, the Curatorial Assistant, and the Collections Assistant was unlike any job I have ever worked at previously. I appreciated their input on my projects immensely, and was enthusiastic to assist with their work whenever I could.  Another incredibly interesting aspect of working at the Museum was being allowed to look at all the artefacts that we keep in collection rooms below the galleries, which are typically only accessible to visitors by appointment. There are so many fascinating objects downstairs, and I loved going down there to explore.

My summer SWEP term at the Museum of Health Care has been rewarding to say the least! I am thankful to the core staff at the museum for giving me this opportunity. My time here has been extremely beneficial in developing professional skills, both new and existing, and I would be thrilled if it led to more opportunities for me to continue working in a museum environment.

Julia Blakey is a fourth year Film and Media student at Queen’s University. When she is not busy reading about the history of health care, she enjoys watching films, running, and experimenting with vegan cuisine.

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

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