Covered head to toe in scrubs and surgical gloves, a teen tripped in a room filled with aspiring physicians.
“It’s OK — I’m a doctor. I can help,” said Andrew Fickert, a 14-year-old who will attend Lincolnview High School next fall.
Andrew is one of 36 participants in CampMed, an annual program designed to give upcoming high school freshmen a taste of medical school. Organized by the University of Toledo College of Medicine and the Area Health Education Center — a workforce development program that promotes clinical education in health care — the two-day camp was at the University of Toledo Health Science Campus on Thursday and continues today.
The program, which is free to students, is the 16th of its kind, encouraging students to pursue a medical career since 1998.
“CampMed is a place to start, and the next step is to be a strong science and math student in high school so they will be prepared for college,” said Kathleen Vasquez, director of the Area Health Education Center. “We hear often from our alumni that this experience was very meaningful as they moved through college and into a career.”
At least 80 percent of CampMed alumni go to college, and 66 percent pursue a career in the medical field, Ms. Vasquez said.
“We had a session this morning in the simulation center, and one of the instructors there attended our second annual CampMed in 1999. It’s awesome,” said Kathryn Oberhauser, CampMed program coordinator and Area Health Education Center administrative assistant.
This year, about 85 students applied to the program, which accepted 36 upcoming high school freshmen from 16 counties across northwest Ohio. Most of the students represent minorities, rural areas, or first-generation college families, according to the University of Toledo.
“[The CampMed students] represent an underrepresented minority in health care,” Ms. Vasquez said. “Our purpose is to have professionals work in rural, underserved areas with fewer doctors.”
To prepare the teens for medical school, organizers mixed lecture courses with hands-on activities.
In one area, students learned sterilization techniques and dressed in hospital scrubs, decking themselves in blue caps, gowns, masks, and gloves.
“It’s hot in this,” said Zoe Moorman, 14, an upcoming Wapakoneta High School freshman who dreams of curing cancer. “I’m sweating, but I’m feeling pretty cool right now. I get to come here in a select group and learn about my future.”
In the course of two days, CampMed students can visit the emergency room, take tours of a Life Flight helicopter, and learn about plastination, a preservation method in which organs are coated in plastic. In a session dubbed “Gross Anatomy,” teens look at real cadavers and learn about human anatomy.
“Throughout my childhood, I’ve hunted and I was fascinated by the anatomy of animals,” Andrew said. “I thought I could use that [interest] to help people.”
Teens also visited a virtual hospital room, in which they can assess mannequins that breathe, blink, and speak.
“We’re hoping next year we’ll have better capabilities,” said Cristina Alvarado, simulation center technician and nurse at the University of Toledo Medical Center, the former Medical College of Ohio Hospital.
According to UT spokesman Jon Strunk, a $36 million Interprofessional Immersive Simulation Center is under construction and is to be completed next spring.
The simulation center will include an operating room, intensive care unit, labor and delivery area, and emergency room that mimic a hospital environment, Ms. Alvarado said.
“The most important and immediate impact that we hope to accomplish through CampMed is for these very motivated, capable, and academically strong kids to see that becoming a doctor is possible and attainable,” Ms. Vasquez said. “For many kids, this is their first experience that might lead them to a career in medicine.”
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