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August 1, 2014 — When Tatiana Rice of Casper was a young girl, her pediatrician inspired her to consider a career in the medical profession.
Rice took an important step toward following her pediatrician’s example when she received hands-on medical training during the recent Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming.
During the camp, 40 high school students from 21 Wyoming communities learned about the requirements necessary to pursue a health care career as well as the numerous job opportunities that will be available throughout Wyoming upon completion of their training.
“I had talked to some college advisers as a freshman, but didn’t feel like I understood the medical school process very well,” Rice says. “When I heard about the AHEC program during morning announcements, I learned we would dissect a cadaver and get CPR certified, so I knew I had to come.”
She’s thrilled she decided to attend.
“The experience was incredible. I was able to participate in so many activities that I otherwise would never have,” Rice says. “Academically, the camp was amazing. I was able to learn about so many different professions like forensics, pharmaceuticals and EMTs.”
At the UW camp, high school students were exposed to careers in such fields as nursing, pharmacy, medicine, surgical technology, forensics, dental hygiene, radiography and ultrasonography. Activities took place on the UW campus, Laramie’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital and at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.
Students had opportunities to suture (with chicken breasts); make “medicated” gummy bears; make a cast; perform an ultrasound-guided “biopsy”; and operate a laparoscope, an instrument used to examine abdominal or pelvic organs.
“Wyoming is facing a critical shortage of health care workers. Camp sponsors hope that opportunities like this will motivate students to consider pursuing health care careers,” says Marivern Easton, Wyoming AHEC program director and UW College of Health Sciences WWAMI Medical Education assistant director. “The shortage will worsen as the baby boomer generation ages.”
Each Wyoming county is dealing with shortages in primary care and mental health, and many face shortages of dentists and other health care professionals.
The key, Easton says, is to identify, recruit, train and retain Wyoming residents.
“If we can generate enthusiasm among high school-aged students and support them as they pursue education and training opportunities, we have a much stronger possibility of eventually employing them as health care workers throughout Wyoming,” she adds.
Rice says the camp demonstrated that UW offers a quality educational experience in health care.
“UW has amazing scholarships and health programs. It’s also a beautiful campus,” she says. “The counselors were amazing, unique and funny. The camp was structured perfectly. I can't say enough good things about my experience.”
The camp is sponsored by the Wyoming AHEC, UW College of Health Sciences, WWAMI (Washington Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) Medical Education Program, Wyoming Office of Rural Health, Laramie County Community College, Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships, and Ivinson Memorial Hospital.
For more information about the summer camp, call Easton at (307) 766-6751.
Casper student Tatiana Rice received hands-on medical training in a microbiology laboratory during the recent Wyoming Area Health Education Center Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming. Students learned about the requirements necessary to pursue a health care career as well as the numerous job opportunities that will be available throughout Wyoming upon completion of their training. (UW Photo)