CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — While some teens are spending the lazy days of summer lounging by swimming pools, sleeping late or relaxing with friends, Katie Gonder is learning how to start an IV.
The 14-year-old Gettysburg, Pa., resident is one of 17 students participating in Penn State Mont Alto’s MedCamp this week.
“I want to do nursing, and this is helping me learn more about it and how to do stuff,” Katie said.
Working in the health care field runs in the Gonder family.
Katie’s sister is a nursing student at Messiah College.
MedCamp coordinator Renee Borromeo said the program, now in its sixth year, offers area high school students in ninth and 10th grades the opportunity to learn more about health care careers.
For $225, students learn about health care careers including physical medicine, surgery, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, radiology and pathology.
“Anything that any student can do to have hands-on exposure to health care is amazing,” said Angie Austin, Chambersburg Hospital school liaison coordinator. “The need for health care careers is exploding. It is extremely high.”
She said there are more than 250 health care-related jobs.
Austin said Franklin County has a large population of retired people, and there is going to be a severe nursing shortage by 2014 to 2016 in the United States.
Some MedCamp students were at Chambersburg Hospital on Wednesday learning about radiology, paramedics and participating in a mock surgery.
Chambersburg Fire Department Paramedic Scott McNew gave a demonstration on starting an IV.
With three artificial arms in front of the students and directions from McNew, students were ready to insert needles into the artificial arms.
“You’re lucky. When I was in paramedic school, we tried on each other’s arms. I came home with a lot of bruises,” McNew said, chiding the teens.
“We’re not going to do it on each other are we?” Katie said.
With serious concentration on her face, Katie slid the needle into her “patient” with the precision of a seasoned professional.
As the daughter of a nurse, Bethany Robison, 15, of Chambersburg, said MedCamp is helping her explore what health care career she wants to go into when the time comes.
“I know I want to go into medicine. I just don’t know what yet. But, I think physical therapy is interesting,” Bethany said.
She liked going to Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va., to the cadaver lab and later building a skeleton using human bones.
“That was the most challenging. Putting the bones together was hard,” she said. “This is really a fun camp.”
“I definitely want a career in health care,” said Thalia Sassman, 14, of Shippensburg, Pa.
Thalia said without having hands-on experience at MedCamp, she would never have been able to narrow down her many options for a medical career.
“I’m looking at surgery, but I also liked physical therapy and occupational therapy. But, I didn’t like the cadaver lab — because of the smell,” Thalia said.
She thinks this is an experience more kids her age should try.
“You get to see a lot of cool things,” Thalia said. “We get to go to the hospital, do IVs and see cadaver labs. You just get to explore a lot of different stuff that you usually don’t see. I think more kids might go into the health care field if they were exposed to the medical field early on.”