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Hailey Mazurkiewicz wants to give back to her family and community.
Mazurkiewicz, who will be a sophomore at Evanston High School this fall, has spent a lot of time in hospitals, visiting ailing relatives. That has prompted her to prepare for a career in the health field, either as a pediatrician or a nurse.
So, it was only natural that she applied for a summer health care camp for students with similar interests.
Mazurkiewicz was among 40 high school students from 21 Wyoming communities who were just part of the recent second Wyoming Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Health Care Careers Summer Camp at the University of Wyoming.
Sydney Jordan, another EHS student, 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.
“This camp helped motivate me even more,” Mazurkiewicz says. “I know 100 percent that I want to be in the health care field to help others.”
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.
Mazurkiewicz has been on the UW campus before and was drawn to the university’s 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.
“My favorite part of the camp is that I got to experience things even before some college kids get to see them,” Mazurkiewicz says. “The hands-on experience was the best part and it was a great opportunity to actually work in a lab. They kept us busy each day and I got to meet a lot of new students. It’s great to meet other people who have the same interest as you.”
She says the camp experience will motivate her to take even “higher” classes at EHS, adding, “I highly recommend this camp to other students because you learn so much.”
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.