DICKINSON – From bottle-feeding lambs to mock phlebotomy, high school students were given the opportunity to explore different careers in the health sciences at Scrubs Camp, a program sponsored by the University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences aims to increase awareness, interest and understanding of health careers in rural North Dakota.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors from area high schools walked from room to room, where community health science professionals provided interactive lab experiences to help expose students to a variety of health science jobs.
The camp is a program supported by the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences that targets rural students and increases awareness, interest and understanding of the health care careers available in rural North Dakota through creative and interactive activities.
With 17 presenters and more than 70 students in attendance, Rhonda Schauer and Pat Billings, both organizers of the event, were excited to see their hard work pay off.
The 25-minute sessions provided included surgical technology, emergency nursing, EMS, pharmacy, disability services, behavioral health and veterinarians among the long list of presenters.
Schauer and Billings were pleasantly surprised by the number of people and businesses in the community who were eager to spend a day with the students, so much so that there were almost too many volunteers.
“You expect half of them to say no or we’re understaffed or we can’t take the time or whatever, but that hasn’t happened. It was a good problem,” Schauer said.
Cashwise and Subway also helped provide snacks and lunch to the ambitious students.
“We didn’t have to pull teeth to get people to come, they were all interested,” Billings said.
In addition to Dickinson, students from South Heart, Belfield, Hettinger and the Hebron area were some of the schools that participated in the event.
For both Schauer and Billings, it’s important to offer such opportunities to a variety of fields.
“For me it’s to offer something nice [the program] You’re feeding into so many different school areas, not only local education programs, but external ones as well,” Schauer said.
Billings agreed, noting that because North Dakota is so spread out, it can be very difficult for smaller communities to put something like this in place.
Students shared their hopes of working as mental health providers or their dreams of working as pediatricians, and while some still don’t see a career in the health sciences in sight, many felt it opened their eyes to different possibilities.
Mina Soggie is a junior at Dickinson High School and said she loved being able to see different options.
Although she always wanted to be a geriatric nurse, getting hands-on experience in addition to watching phlebotomy session opened her eyes to different interests.
For Eva Dustin, another DHS junior, the sessions have given her a better understanding of what to expect from different professions.
“I think it’s much better to listen to people who actually do it than to teachers, to feel more firsthand and hear different cases that they’ve done,” said Dustin.
Schauers’ goal is to provide kids with that exposure, hoping to encourage them to enroll in health science classes and continue working or attending the DSU nursing program, a win-win situation.
Averie Wax, DHS Sophomore, hopes to do just that to help pave the way to becoming a plastic surgeon.
Wax plans to work her senior year in physical therapy to learn more about the body and then attend Bismark State College to continue its surgical technology program.
Fortunately for Wax, surgical technology was one of the sessions offered and, of course, the one he was looking forward to the most.
CountryHouse presenters who work in memory care had the opportunity to share what a day on the job looks like and hope to inspire future generations to take part in senior living.
As with many areas of health care, senior living is experiencing a staffing crisis, says Amanda Wilson, director of memory care, who sometimes worries about what their future holds.
For Wilson and Jessica Binstock, service coordinators at Country House, it was impressive to see how many children were interested in what the group presented.
To simulate what it feels like to live with dementia, the group did a hands-on activity by following directions and having the students walk and shuffle while making a picture.
In the end, they have this incredible picture that Wilson laughed at, but then they discuss that this is what their patients are going through and how they work best to navigate it.
“To see so many kids interested in what we have to say, it means a lot to us to be here today,” Wilson said.
Both Schauer and Billings love the journey of not only working together to organize the event but also being able to see the smooth turnout.
Based on community involvement and student reactions, Schauer and Billings hope to offer the event again next year, growing it even further.
Allison is a news reporter from Phoenix, Arizona, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After college, he worked as a middle school writing teacher in the valley. He has traveled across the US driving from Arizona to Minnesota and finally found Dickinson here. He has a passion for storytelling and enjoys covering community news.