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Students explore health careers aplenty

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ask a teenager what comes to mind when they think of a career in healthcare, and you’ll likely get the same two responses: doctor or nurse.

Mercyhurst University’s School of Health Professions and Public Health with the Hamot Health Foundation is opening young minds to a much larger array of allied health careers through its annual Health Career Explorers Camp, July 14-18 and July 21-25.

At the camps, 50 students receive their own set of scrubs and stethoscope while they are exposed to an intense week of clinical activities, field trips and sessions with working healthcare professionals. Activities include a student-produced video newscast where the teens grab a video camera and interview college students on campus asking them whether or not super-sized sugary drinks should be taxed or even banned. Over-consumption of sugar has become a major public health problem that the students explore.

The newscasts premiere at each camp’s graduation ceremony, at 12:30 p.m. July 18 and 25, at UPMC Hamot, Lincoln Center, located on the first floor of UPMC Hamot Women’s Hospital at 118 East Second St.

The annual summer camp, now in its seventh year, has provided more than 400 culturally diverse teens hands-on experience in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical lab technology, respiratory therapy and emergency medical response training. The campers work on human patient simulators, visit UPMC Hamot Medical Center, and conduct health histories of residents at Parkside Retirement Community in North East. “Students love getting a behind-the-scenes look at so many exciting careers in healthcare today,” explains Linda Rhodes, Ph.D., founder of the camps. “They leave knowing that these rewarding careers are within their reach.”

Each camp graduate receives a $2,000 scholarship toward any program at Mercyhurst University once they graduate from high school. Campers also receive a magazine cover photo of themselves in their scrubs at a hospital bedside for motivational inspiration.

Throughout the academic year students may also attend “Health Career Retreats” at the university geared toward activities to help them with their studies in high school and nurture their interest in a health care career. And they can join a Mercyhurst-sponsored Health Career Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club that in its short history has won state awards and sent students onto national HOSA finals.

For more information, contact Linda Rhodes, director of the Hirtzel Institute on Health Education and Aging, at 814-725-6310 or 717-919-4991.