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Taner Trujillo has always been interested in a healthcare profession, but the soon-to-be Pinedale High School junior wondered what path to take to achieve his dream.
It wasn’t until one of his hometown teachers told him about a summer healthcare camp at the University of Wyoming that Trujillo set a goal to pursue a career either as a pharmacist, anesthesiologist or radiologist.
Forty high school students from 21 Wyoming communities participated in the recent second Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Healthcare Careers Summer Camp. Pinedale High School students Dakota Cox and Hayden Fish also attended the weeklong UW camp.
The camp provided students with an opportunity to explore numerous healthcare careers through interaction and observation. Students also learned about the requirements necessary to pursue a healthcare career as well as the numerous job opportunities that will be available throughout Wyoming upon completion of their training.
The 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 healthcare workers. Camp sponsors hope that opportunities like this will motivate students to consider pursuing healthcare 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 healthcare workers throughout Wyoming,” she adds.
During the recent healthcare camp, students explored a variety of healthcare 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.
Trujillo particularly enjoyed learning how to properly measure materials to make lip balm in one course, while also learning to use a stethoscope and techniques to apply an IV on one of the UW College of Health Sciences simulator arms.
“The camp gave me a good idea what it will be like if I go into any one of these healthcare fields. This also will motivate me to do even better in school and to help me stay focused,” Trujillo says. “The camp at UW will help me follow my dreams and get the job that I want.”
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.