A lot of people believe every job in the hospital deals with blood or sick patients.
Last week more than 20 high schoolers checked into Discovery MedCamp Career Exploration at Camp Chandler for a chance to see career options in the medical field, many not dealing with blood.
“They may get here and realize they can’t stand the sight of blood,” said Tamara Hartley, a program coordinator for Southeast Alabama AHEC. “It gives them a chance to realize that and find another way to make it in the medical field.”
Paula Cheatwood is an assistant director with Southeast Alabama AHEC, an organization that promotes rural healthcare.
“The counselors are in college pursuing medical careers,” Cheatwood said. “They are like, ‘Where was this when I was growing up?’”
It is all to help the teenagers decide whether they want to be doctors, nurses, administrators or something else.
“They may know what they want to go in to,” Cheatwood said. “They get here and might change their mind.”
The campers were from Elmore, Montgomery, Lowndes, Bullock, Autagua, Barbour, Lee Houston and Russell counties. Southeast Alabama AHEC services 15 counties promoting rural healthcare. Two of the campers have attended MedCamp once before.
“This is the fourth year,” Cheatwood said. “This is a relatively new camp.”
Last week campers stopped by Elmore Community Hospital to see things in real life. Campers visited the lab to see tests run, observed an ultrasound and scrubbed in for performing an operation. They also saw a code where a camper nervously watched as his heart rhythms were displayed for everyone while hospital personnel demonstrated what happens when a patient has a heart attack.
“They pulled out all the stops,” Cheatwood said. “It was good.”
Campers were even given scenarios of administrators from terminating an employee to reacting to an emergency where the hospital was struck by a tornado to deciding what bills to pay this month while letting others go unpaid for a month.
Hartley hopes the camp exposes youngsters to the vast number of careers in medicine even in small towns while having fun.
“It is a residential summer camp,” Hartley said. “They get to experience normal summer camp activities too. It exposes them to rural healthcare. They get to see a small hospital can operate like a large hospital. They have primary care providers and more.”
With many of the campers coming from rural parts of Southeast Alabama AHEC’s 15-county service area, Cheatwood hopes the campers see the need for primary care in rural areas.
“A lot of our campers are from rural healthcare (areas),” Cheatwood said. “There is a shortage of primary care physicians in rural areas so they get to see that. This is what they would see if they wanted to go home. They would not see this at UAB or Jackson (Hospital in Montgomery).”