Suturing and a sham laparoscopic procedure are just a few of the things some local high school students got to do as part of their summer.
The MultiCare Academy for Students in Healthcare (MASH) camp held its 19th annual camp, formerly known as Nurse Camp, at MultiCare University in Puyallup, a facility where the hospital system provides staff training.
The camp, which was originally founded in 2004, is a way to encourage students to consider a career in nursing, said Sheri Mitchell, manager of the community outreach program.
“It is essentially a youth enrichment program – a free community youth enrichment program – that was created to initially address critical shortages of medical professionals,” Mitchell told The News Tribune. .
The camp, which took place July 11-15, gave high school students the opportunity to learn about and explore both nursing and other allied health professions.
Some students heard about this possibility in their school or in others they knew. None had been to camp before, since students are only allowed to attend camp once in order to give others a chance to go.
“My expectation from this camp was definitely to learn and be exposed to different medical skills and to get more information about different medical professions,” said Bonney Lake High School incoming Zoe Perez, at The News Tribune.
The five day camp was a full day experience. Students participated in job shadowing at various local hospitals and attended panel discussions on different health professions. They also participated in hands-on workshops in the operating room and emergency room, where students practiced intubation on mannequins and moved bowling pins from cup to cup using laparoscopic equipment, among other activities.
Students also took college tours, including Pierce College and Tacoma Community College.
“I really like MASH camp because it gives me the opportunity to explore the field of health care and really figure out what exactly I want to do and where my place is in this field and it was a great experience with lots of hands-on opportunities,” Katie Groth, a junior at Olympia High School, told the News Tribune.
Camp has changed over the years, expanding the opportunities and information provided to campers. Mitchell pointed out that now students are being introduced to more than nursing.
“The program has evolved because it’s not just for the nursing profession with a little about the allied health professions. Now, this involves all health professions, so not just our clinical health professions, but also our non-clinical health professions. So students are introduced to both the clinical setting and the operational setting to see the team-based care we provide to provide excellent care to our patients in the community,” Mitchell told the News Tribune.
MASH Camp had generally been held in an in-person setting, with the exception of the past two years due to COVID-19. Even then, Mitchell said students still enjoyed the virtual experience they were getting while getting creative ways to participate in virtual camp at home.
At the end of the camp, students leave with information about different career options. Mitchell points out that the camp helps students decide if being in the medical field is something they want to do in the future.
“It’s important for students to learn, number one, ‘Hey, that’s exactly what I want to do,’ but it’s also important for students who can be a bit on the fence,” Mitchell told The News. Grandstand. “…it’s also good for students to know, ‘That’s not what I want to do,’ and I think that’s also an important part.”
Typically, Mitchell said, the camp has 120 students. Due to logistics and the fact that Camp MASH was held in a new facility this year, the number of students they had this summer was 60.
Students have a graduation ceremony on the final day with photos, videos, speakers, and a graduation certificate. For some, camp makes a lasting impression.
“The most important thing for me is to continue to pursue opportunities like this because I know it will help me for my future and help me on the right path,” said Alondra Gomez, the new senior of Spanaway Lake High School.