South Central AHEC Health Careers Summer Camp: Learning and fun

By Joel Davidson, South Central AHEC center director and Kari Steck, South Central AHEC health careers summer camp coordinator

For 14 years, South Central Wisconsin AHEC, formerly Southwest Wisconsin AHEC, has been offering high school students in our region a chance to learn about wonderful careers in health care. Students hear directly from health care practitioners and academic instructors teaching health care courses, and spend time at community-based health care facilities. During the week, they also shadow practitioners in a field that interests them. Since 2000, we have enrolled over 470 high school students in our health careers camp. Without the tremendous support from our community-based partners throughout our region, we couldn’t offer students this significant experience.

This summer’s South Central AHEC Health Careers Camp was held on June 23-27, 2013 in Madison. The outstanding group of high school students learned about health careers from a wide array of health professionals. Some highlights of the camp were students’ job shadow experiences; touring Camp Randall football stadium and learning from a UW Athletic Trainer; learning how to give injections from the UW School of Nursing; speaking with Family Medicine Fellows about medical school and the practice of Family Medicine; touring the EPIC facility and learning about its electronic medical record products and how they impact managing patient care; and viewing the cadavers at the UW Anatomy Lab. It wasn’t all work and no play….the students also attended a Madison Mallards baseball game.

The dedicated staff who see this camp through included Kari Steck, a former health careers camper and now a Special Education teacher in the Mt. Horeb school district; Hope Villiard, who just completed her first year as medical student in the Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; Zach Droeszler, who entered the WARM program this summer, and Meaghan Orr, who just graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing and began work in the UW Hospital and Clinics Emergency Department in July .

Students and counselors had a blast and learned a lot throughout the camp. Many campers commented that they thought they knew what they wanted to do coming into the camp, but after learning of all of the different health careers, left wanting to explore the many other health careers they had just discovered. The counselors are already looking to next year! The 14th annual South Central Wisconsin AHEC Health Careers Camp was another success.