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Ashley Faber has tried other summer programs, such as horse or Girl Scout camps, but nothing compared to a health care camp she attended at the University of Wyoming.
Late last spring, Faber, who resides in Thayne, saw a brochure in her Star Valley High School (SVHS) biology class and was immediately intrigued.
“I’ve done other summer camps, but never an academic one,” says Faber, who will be a SVHS junior this fall.
So, she applied for the UW camp and was surprised by what she found.
“It was nothing like what I was expecting. I was expecting all lectures in a classroom,” she says smiling. “I was totally taken by surprise by all the hands-on experience that I got working in an actual lab. I really enjoyed it and it gives you the feeling if you want to do this as a career or not.”
Faber was among 40 high school students from 21 Wyoming communities who were part of the recent second Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming.
Other area students -- Rachel McArthur from Afton and Miranda Schrieber of Alpine -- also attended the weeklong camp that provided students with an opportunity to explore numerous health care careers through interaction and observation.
Students also 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.
Before coming to the summer camp, Faber’s career interests -- something in the health care field or law -- were “polar opposites.” A week’s worth of hands-on projects in various lab settings has Faber leaning one way now.
“This camp was a major eye-opener for me because it gets you involved in so much,” she says. “I felt I gained so much experience that will help me in my high school classes.”
At the UW camp, underclassmen were exposed to careers in such fields as nursing, pharmacy, medicine, surgical technology, audiology, 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.
“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 also UW College of Health Sciences health professions recruitment director. “The shortage will worsen as the baby boomer generation ages.”
According to a recent report, 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.
During the recent UW program, students explored a variety of health care careers and had opportunities to suture (with chicken breasts); practice starting IVs; make a cast; perform an ultrasound-guided “biopsy”; and operate a laparoscope, an instrument used to examine abdominal or pelvic organs.
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.