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August 1, 2014 — As a young child, Grace Gardner of Buffalo would don rubber gloves and, with a toy knife, she pretended to cut into her stuffed animals to perform surgery. Inspired by her grandfather, Dr. Ron Gardner, she wanted to be a doctor some day.
Gardner took an important step toward her career dreams 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. Other students from Buffalo who attended the camp were Morgan Durrant, Rebecca Mespelt, Daisha Scantling and Andrew Snyder. They 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.
“We talked to a paramedic crew (at the UW camp) and I was really inspired by them. I really like the thought of helping people in dire need,” Gardner says. “I know I can do it. And, after working with the dummies (simulated patients) at the camp, I learned that I really love EMT/fire department-related work.”
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.
Gardner says the camp demonstrated that UW offers a quality educational experience in health care.
“I really love it here (at UW) and, with all of the medical programs offered, there is really no way I can go wrong,” she says. “The counselors were wonderful; I could not have made it through camp without them. They are such great people. I love them all.”
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.
Buffalo student Grace Gardner 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)