Archived Story

Camps to Careers focuses on health care [UPDATED]

Published 8:58am Monday, June 27, 2011 Updated 12:00pm Monday, June 27, 2011

Initially walking into the college classroom, a few gasps could be heard and perhaps a gag or two. Step back in the same room two minutes later and the concentration could be felt as camp participants used a scalpel to make an incision in the cornea of a cow’s eyeball.

Central Minnesota Area Health Education Center (AHEC) held its first annual Camps to Careers-Focus on Health Care on the beautiful campus of the University of Minnesota—Morris June 15- 17. Twenty-two 9th-12th grade students kicked off their summer through various hands-on experiences that allowed them to explore a wide range of health care careers.

“We could see our future surgeons, as well as other health care workers in the Medicine/Physician session,” said Central Minnesota AHEC Executive Director Laurissa Stigen.

Along with the physician session, there were two other sessions: Veterinary Medicine and Occupational Therapy led by students in the University of Minnesota’s programs.

“Bringing health professions students to the camp to lead the sessions is a win for everyone,” said Stigen. “Of course it connects the campers to the students, allowing the camp participants to ask questions about the path the students have taken to get where they are today. But it also brings health profession students to rural Minnesota to see some of the great things we have to offer here.”

The camp drew participants from many communities including Alexandria, Barrett, Bellingham, Brooten, Clinton, Fergus Falls, Glenwood, Graceville, Kensington, Lino Lakes, Lowry, Ortonville, Osakis, Randall, Sauk Centre and St. Cloud.

Besides career exploration, participants were also given the opportunity to assess their strengths. A trained specialist from The University of Minnesota Health Careers Center helped the campers look at their individual results from StrengthsQuest assessments, which identifies an individual’s talents and strengths.

With this insight and tools in hand, a Youth Transition Specialist from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and a Career Planning Program Specialist from the Minnesota Department of Education helped the campers build upon their strengths and begin developing a career path beginning in high school.

The costs for the camp were subsidized by DEED’s Minnesota’s Pathways to Employment Initiative, Lakes Country Secondary Perkins Consortium, and through inkind donations from many partners.

Throughout the camp, five teams would periodically meet to analyze different public health scenarios which were introduced by five public health professionals from Stevens-Traverse-Grant, Otter Tail, and Douglas County Public Health Departments.

Stigen said the campers could ask the professionals who all might be involved in a similar scenario, working together in a health care team.

“Experiences from actual health care professionals helped the camp participants understand the public health careers better as well who else might be involved,” said Stigen.

The participants did further research on the careers and did a final team presentation to the other campers, parents, and special guests at Friday’s celebration luncheon.

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