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Ten Sleep Student Plans Health Care Career

July 31, 2015
young woman in lab coat and safety glasses using small scientific apparatus
Naomi Zizzo, of Ten Sleep, received hands-on training in a variety of health care disciplines during the recent AHEC Health Care Careers Summer Camp at UW. (UW Photo)

Naomi Zizzo, of Ten Sleep, came to a University of Wyoming health care career camp with thoughts of becoming an ophthalmologist, and she left camp knowing there are many other medical career opportunities to explore. 

Zizzo was among students attending the Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming. She 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 her training.

At the UW camp, the students were exposed to careers in such fields as nursing, pharmacy, medicine, surgical technology, speech-language pathology, optometry, dental hygiene, radiography and ultrasonography. Activities took place on the UW campus, Laramie’s Ivinson Memorial Hospital, Snowy Range Vision Center and at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne.  More than 40 local health care workers volunteered their time to teach campers about their chosen professions.

“I was able to learn about the medical industry, explore the different medical opportunities that I have, and also meet new people and make lifelong friends who share my same interests,” Zizzo says. “I have learned more and my eyes have been opened more, inspiring me to find a way to help people while also being happy in a job that I can enjoy.”

Students had opportunities to suture (with chicken breasts); make medicated balm; make a cast; perform an ultrasound-guided “biopsy”; give injections (into simulated skins); 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.

Zizzo says the camp demonstrated that UW offers a quality educational experience in health care.

“I have realized that it (UW) is more of a small community than a school. In addition to this, every single one of the learning facilities that I visited while at camp taught me a lot,” she says. “I have realized how many different things the university has to offer, and I would love to come here after high school.”

The camp is sponsored by the Wyoming AHEC, UW College of Health Sciences, WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) medical education program, Wyoming Office of Rural Health, Laramie County Community College, Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships, Snowy Range Vision Center and Ivinson Memorial Hospital.

For more information about the summer camp, call Easton at (307) 766-6751 or see careers summer camp.html.

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