Genevieve Tipton, of Auburn, puts on her gown and gloves at Nurse Camp last week. COURTESY PHOTO, Patrick Hagerty

Trying on a health care job for size

Local teens get hands-0n experience at Nurse Camp

Audrey Wood one day would like to help bring new life into the world, or possibly preserve it.

True to her compassionate nature, the 16-year-old home-schooled student from Auburn wants to become a registered nurse.

“It would be cool to see life happen in labor and delivery,” said Wood, pausing between learning stations at MultiCare Nurse Camp inside the Jackson Hall Medical Center on the Tacoma General Hospital campus last Friday. “And the ER (emergency room) is pretty fast paced, and I like fast pace.”

Wood got the chance to experience the real thing during the week-long camp. More than 100 area high school students received a hands-on look at careers in nursing at the camp, now in its 14th year.

Students tried out medical devices, practiced suturing and performed “Skittlectomies” on mannequins. They toured operating rooms, emergency departments and patient rooms at MultiCare’s five area hospitals – Tacoma General Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Allenmore Hospital and Auburn Medical Center.

The camp has helped Wood determine which direction she wants to go in the medical world. She already is exploring RN schools in Idaho and Indiana. Wood, who especially enjoys working with children, embraced her job shadow experience in pediatric general surgery.

“They were really informative,” she said of the camp experience, “and I know exactly what I want to do.”

Like Wood, Genevieve Tipton is interested in pediatrics. She may even become a doctor and is specifically interested in Doctors without Borders, an international humanitarian organization that delivers emergency medical aid to people in need. Her mother, a medical assistant at the MultiCare clinic in Auburn, is from Peru.

Tipton has seen firsthand the health struggles in third-world countries.

“I like the idea that they help people in (other) countries. It connects with me,” said Tipton, 17, a senior-to-be at Auburn Mountainview High School. “It’s hard seeing people not getting the help they need.”

During Tipton’s job shadow last week, she witnessed a C-section, her favorite moment of the camp.

“I thought it would be worse than it was, but it ended up being cool,” she said.

The camp is designed to inspire and motivate teens to pursue a career in nursing or other health care-related fields by gaining some insight from the experiences they encountered throughout the week, said Sheri Mitchell, community outreach liaison for the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living and Health Equity.

Nursing continues to face a nationwide shortage as it recruits young talent to fill the void.

“(The camp) was set up to create that pipeline from high school to college to career,” Mitchell said. “We hope that by giving them exposure to the different health professions and, of course, nursing, that will help the nursing shortage.”

The camp is engaging, a big hit, Mitchell observed.

“It’s fun,” she said. “The payoff (from coordinating the camp) is seeing their faces light up, excited about learning the different medical professions.”

Although the five-day camp is free, entrance to the program is competitive because of the number of positions. Students are selected on the strength of their personal statement, transcripts and a recommendation letter from a science teacher.

In 2003, MultiCare realized the need to encourage a more diverse and well-prepared health work force and started the week-long day camp the following year. In addition to increasing ethnic and racial diversity in health care, a growing number of young men are pursuing careers in nursing, a trend MultiCare Nurse Camp encourages and supports.

“I was very excited to have such a diverse group of high school students, eager to learn about nursing and allied health professions,” Mitchell said.

– MultiCare contributed to this story.

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MultiCare Nurse Camp highlights

Hands-on station rotation: Skittlectomies, IV starts, intubations, infection control, CPR, crutch training.

Job shadowing: Various units/departments at Tacoma General, Mary Bridge, Allenmore, Auburn Medical Center and Good Samaritan hospitals.

Operating room experience: Touring the OR, learning about high-tech surgeries and sterile technique.

Emergency department experience: Stations included cardiac rhythm, airway, backboard/c-spine, forearm Fiberglass splinting, wound irrigation/stapling, alcohol awareness (students wear beer goggles), medic unit (students tour the inside of an ambulance), emergency preparedness.

Nurse Camp students shared their experiences throughout the week on social media using the hashtag #nursecamprocks.

Auburn’s Audrey Wood observes a resuscitation procedure during MultiCare Nurse Camp last week. MARK KLAAS, Reporter

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