A three-day camp held July 21-23 at UNLV helped 50 carefully chosen incoming high school freshmen decide if a career in the medical field was right for them.
The camp at 4505 S. Maryland Parkway gave the students hands-on experience and an introduction to clinical medicine and medical self-efficacy. It was a collaboration of Desert Meadows Area Health Education Center, a service of Vegas PBS, and its medical school partners, including Touro University Nevada, Roseman University of Health Sciences, UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno.
“This program has interested me more in the medical sciences and opened up my views to what I could do,” said Kimberly Giannantonio, 14 and an incoming freshman at Coronado High School, 1001 Coronado Center Drive. “It’s a lot better than school because the students all have the same interests, and they want to learn rather than being here just because they have to be.”
The teenagers are on their way to their first year in high school, and four to five doctors in each of the 10 students’ teams are mentoring them. Dr. Willis K. Paull, professor of biomedical sciences at Roseman, is one of those doctors.
“This is an early motivation for them in their careers,” he said. “We like to target kids at this age because this is the time when they might continue to be excited, or they might drift away.”
This is the inaugural year for this physician camp, and it was a success, according to Cary Huddleston, program coordinator for Desert Meadows Area Health Education Center. The students experienced one on one what it would be like to be in the medical field and what a day in the life of a doctor is like.
The aim of the program is to inspire and motivate teenagers who have declared the medical field to be their career choice.
“Young people today sometimes have a problem visualizing themselves in becoming physicians,” Huddleston said. “They believe it is too far out of their grasp because all you hear is how long it takes to go to school and how expensive it is. We have a horrible health care shortage, especially with physicians, in the state of Nevada. If we can inspire one or two of these campers to pursue a profession as a physician, I think that would be a great win for our state.”
There was tuition assistance for those that needed it. Some students paid the full $210 for the camp, while others paid half, and others, through waivers, were able to attend free.
The application packages, which included essays and the student’s grades, were reviewed by four panelists in late June.
The outcome of the program was so favorable that it will be an ongoing, recurring summer camp for ninth-graders going forward.