Three days each summer, students interested in the medical field have a chance to get up-close and personal with medical professionals and patients, allowing them a taste of what their future might hold.
This summer, Camp Med hosted 12 students from six area high schools, with the first day incorporating job shadowing at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital and its affiliated practices.
For high-schoolers on summer break, this past Monday started out bright and early at 9:15 a.m. where they were welcomed by Laura Oakes, director of marketing and medical staff development for Hugh Chatham, and given short overviews of areas such as physical therapy, nursing and volunteering. Each student also had to sign a patient privacy waiver prior to entering their shadowing experience.
As she gave each participant their job shadow assignment, she encouraged them to “make eye contact with people and smile, really challenge yourself to do that, and ask questions. Everybody has been where you are at one point and time.”
The students from Mount Airy, Elkin, Starmount and Forbush high schools, as well as Millennium Charter Academy and Yadkin Early College High School, then embarked on their journeys to the assigned locations for the morning, whether it be learning about the birthing center or wellness center, getting a look at family medicine or dermatology, being with professionals in the emergency department, or scrubbing in to shadow at the operating room.
When they applied to participate in Camp Med the students had a chance to indicate their first choice for a medical division to visit, but not everyone could shadow in the emergency or operating rooms, which seemed to be the most popular choices. Oakes encouraged them, in whatever division they were assigned, to ask how that correlated with the profession they were interested in learning about.
Carly Sheets, a student at Mount Airy High School, said she applied for Camp Med for “the experience, because I want to pursue a career in the medical field.”
For Alyssa Yanez of Starmount High School, the decision to enter the medical profession was close to home. “I want to work as a nurse practitioner in the ER,” she explained. “I like helping people, and I grew up taking care of my great-grandpa. He had lung cancer, and it made me more interested.”
Yanez, who already completed health science II at her school, is no stranger to medicine, as her mother is a nurse. The rising senior will be interning in the medical field during her final year of high school.
Oakes said Hugh Chatham has participated in Camp Med for at least five years, possibly longer. “I think it gives students knowledge about the hospital, because not all of them are from Elkin, and everything we offer here,” she said. “Our hopes are to grow students in the medical field and eventually be able to recruit some of those students back to the area to work.”
While Monday was spent in Elkin, on Tuesday the students were visiting Surry Community College’s main campus in Dobson with an itinerary to include college admissions overview, principles of sports medicine and functional movement, campus tour, health sciences program tour and speakers on topics like physical therapy, Mountain Valley Hospice, Surry County EMS ambulance tour and employment opportunities.
The final day of the program will be spent at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, where they will tour the facility and get a hands-on opportunity to practice CPR and other procedures on mannequins and do activities in surgery labs.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.