A taste of the nursing world

More than 100 students from various counties in Washington will attend MultiCare Health Systems’ fourth annual Nurse Camp for high school students on July 10.  - Courtesy photo
More than 100 students from various counties in Washington will attend MultiCare Health Systems’ fourth annual Nurse Camp for high school students on July 10.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

When the words “summer camp” come to mind, so do images of hot days, campfires and floating in cool lake water.

For Central Kitsap High School grads Amy Renfrow and Stefanie Robles, however, summer camp means monitoring vital signs, learning forensic procedures and participating in mock surgery.

Beginning Tuesday, July 10, more than 100 high school students from 42 different schools will spend four days getting a taste of the healthcare industry through the perspective of nursing and allied health professionals at the MultiCare Health Systems Nurse Camp.

“I am excited,” Robles said of the nursing opportunity. “I’ve been taking medical professional classes, like anatomy and physiology, at the West Sound Technical Skills Center.”

MultiCare is a leading non-profit, integrated health organization made up of four hospitals, numerous primary care and urgent care clinics, multi-specialty centers, Hospice and Home Health services and many other services. MultiCare is based in Tacoma.

“I wanted to do (the Nurse Camp) because I’m interested in the medical field and wanted to further my education,” said Amy Renfrow of the Nurse Camp. “I’m nervous about watching the surgeries in person.”

While at the four-day camp, students will shadow health care professionals in the emergency department, intensive care unit, surgical care areas, inpatient units and allied health areas at Tacoma General Hospital, Allenmore Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center. They also will have the opportunity to visit with college-level students and professors from Tacoma Community College, Pacific Lutheran University, Clover Park Technical College and Pierce College Puyallup Campus.

“The opportunity to do this isn’t very common,” Robles said, adding that she plans to study nursing at Seattle University in the fall. “I’m nervous about some of the hands-on experience. I’m not sure of the things they’ll have us do.”

Students will be assisted by representatives from the local American Operating Room Nurses Association while performing skills needed in the operating room including stapling, suturing, scrubbing and observing simulated and live surgery on closed circuit television monitors. They also will have the opportunity to conduct a “Skittlectomy” on a mannequin where they will remove candy with surgical tools.

“It’ll be really nerve-racking, but exciting,” Robles said with a laugh, adding that she wants to be a registered nurse specializing in either neonatal or nephrology.

The selection process began with interested students writing essays about why they are inspired to consider nursing as a possible career. Many of which included personal experiences. Robles said her inspiration came from her mom, who is a nurse.

“I’m excited to meet new people and being able to be right next to nurses and (shadow) surgeries,” Renfrow said, adding that after obtaining her Registered Nurse certification, she either wants to specialize in surgery assistance or pediatrics.

When campers arrive Tuesday, they will receive a Summer Nurse Camp identification hospital badge, a set of hospital scrubs donated by Standard Textile and a stethoscope donated by Owens & Minor. The activities of the week will culminate with a graduation ceremony at the end, complete with certificates and a pinning by the Chief Nurse of MultiCare Health System, and the Deans from the participating schools of nursing at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Community College, Clover Park Technical College and Pierce College, Puyallup Campus.

The graduation ceremony is at Stadium High School Amphitheater in Tacoma at 7 p.m. Friday, July 13, with keynote speaker Washington state Sen. and nurse Karen Keiser (D-Kent). State Sen. and nurse Margarita Prentice (D-Renton) also is scheduled to speak to the students.

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