UW Health Care Camp Offers Choices for Lander Students

July 26, 2012
Student practicing on medical mannequin
Lander Valley High School student Kamille Brough practiced starting an IV on one of the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences simulator arms. Forty high school students participated in the recent second Wyoming Area Health Education Center Healthcare Careers Summer Camp. (UW Photo)

Kamille Brough felt a little squeamish knowing that she had to start an IV on one of the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences simulator arms.

As she watched Holly Miller, a UW School of Nursing senior lecturer, demonstrate the proper technique of adjusting the IV needle into the simulator arm, the soon-to-be Lander Valley High School (LVHS) sophomore felt more confident.

“I thought they were huge needles being used for an IV and I was scared thinking about it,” she says. “But, after watching and hearing how to do it, it was easier to understand.”

That hands-on IV demonstration for Brough and 39 other high school students from 21 Wyoming communities was just part of the recent second Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming.

LVHS student Neil "Jordan" Harting 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.

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.

“Ever since the eighth grade,  I’ve wanted to be a pharmacist,” Brough says. “I really liked this camp because I had the experience of working in an actual lab and getting that hands-on experience. I have a lot of options to go through in my career and this program helped me.”

Brough was encouraged to apply for the camp after learning about student opportunities from one of her LVHS instructors. She considered others, but was drawn to the UW health care camp because of future career possibilities that will become available.

“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.

Brough has taken advantage of another UW camp -- one offered for middle school girls to explore engineering careers. But her mind is set on health care.

“I really want to be a pharmacist and this health care camp offered a pharmacy component. I knew I wanted to apply,” she says.

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.

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