Summer Camp Offers Junior High Students a Health Professions Preview

Participants in the 2016 Health Path Summer Camp
Some of the best childhood memories are made at summer camp and some memorable experiences are sure to be had at the HealthPath Summer Camp on the University of Cincinnati’s (UC) medical campus. The comprehensive, interactive and educational three-day camp for students in grades 7 through 9 takes place July 27-29, 2016 and targets students in rural communities from Adams, Brown, Clermont and Warren Counties.
Students will spend the three days being introduced to the life of a health professions college student. They will take part in college-level courses, simulated patient cases and interprofessional teamwork. Students will have the chance to meet with primary care providers and current health profession students at UC. Participants will be exposed to a variety of programs within the Academic Health Center, which includesthe colleges of allied health sciences, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.
“One of the goals of the HealthPath grant is to increase early awareness of educational requirements for those wanting to pursue health professions degrees with a particular emphasis on those from rural areas,” says Samantha McKenzie, program coordinator of the UC Academic Health Center Pathways Program. “The big thing about the rural students is just the exposure. Many of them haven’t been exposed to a lot of the programs and a lot of the opportunities here.”
The 25 students taking part in the camp come from as far away as Manchester, a village of just over 2,000 on the Ohio River in southern Adams County. It’s a 75-mile drive from Manchester to the UC medical campus, and shuttles take the students to and from the camp each morning and afternoon at no charge, thanks to funding from the HealthPath grant.
The Summer Camp is just one of the projects of the HealthPath grant, awarded to the College of Medicine and College of Nursing in November 2014. The two-year, $300,000 grant is funded by HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, which serves 36 counties in parts of western Ohio and eastern Ohio with a mission of strengthening the health care safety net to ensure that all Ohioans have access to primary health and dental care.
Other UC Academic Health Center Pathway Program projects funded by the HealthPath grant include an annual career fair, a summer bridge program and two health professions coaches embedded in four rural schools who lead health professions clubs in those schools.
Last year’s camp had 20 participants, some of whom are returning this year.
“We’ve had students who were pre-med and thought they wanted to be doctors but then heard about the nurse practitioner program here and things like midwifery,” McKenzie says. “Students are always surprised by the different nursing pathways they can take for example, whether it’s bedside or research or even going on to get a higher degree to be a nurse practitioner.”
The HealthPath grant ends on November 30, 2016. McKenzie says a six-month extension is being requested to allow the program to finish out the next academic school year and the search is underway for other forms of funding for the future.
“The issue with the lack of health professionals in rural communities is really huge right now and people are noticing it more and more, so I hope that there are more funding opportunities available,” McKenzie says.
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