Career Camp Gives Students Inside Glimpse into Health Care Careers

Thursday, July 18, 2013

East Haven, Conn. high school students considering a career in health care got to see firsthand what it is like to work in the medical field during a Health Care Career Camp at Gateway Community College.

The week-long camp took place July 8 – July 12 and was offered for the first time through Gateway’s Allied Health & Nursing Division and led by instructors Nancy Tipping, R.N., B.S.N., M.S.N., and Sam Osei, R.N., B.S. Presentations and activities gave students an inside look at careers in nursing, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine technology, nutrition, radiography, diagnostic medical sonography and exercise science. The participants, juniors and seniors at East Haven High School, also toured Yale-New Haven Hospital. 

Tipping said that in addition to providing information about health care careers, the goal of the camp was to address the needs of employers and the realities of employment in the medical field. She noted that during the hospital tour, it was stressed that all employees must pay attention to detail, have excellent interpersonal and speaking skills, and a positive attitude.   

At Gateway, camp participants got to meet “Eric,” the nursing program’s most sophisticated mannequin, offering students experience in handling medical emergencies. Demonstrations with the mannequins showed camp participants how Gateway’s instructors can simulate real patient interactions, making the mannequins sweat, cough, hyperventilate and have seizures. Viewing the lab gave participants a chance to see how classroom instruction and hands-on experience prepares nursing students for the challenges that they will face on-the-job. 

The students also toured the radiology labs and gained an understanding about the work of a radiation therapist, radiographer, nuclear medicine technologist and diagnostic medical sonographer, seeing how these professionals work with patients as part of a health care team. Lab activities offered camp participants a chance to experience what students in radiology programs are learning. In the radiation therapy lab, the students saw treatment planning computers and learned about how radiation is emitted. They also learned about how imaging procedures like x-rays and sonograms are used to diagnose problems. During a tour of the nuclear medicine skills lab, students learned how radiopharmaceuticals are administered to patients and how a camera is used to produce a computer image of internal structures of the body.    

The broad offerings at Gateway show aspects of health care that can be overlooked when students are thinking about career options. The Dietetic Technology program offered a four-station interactive demonstration about how to avoid empty calories, including the unexpected fat and excess calories that are frequently lurking in a flavored coffee drink. A tour of the exercise science lab offered participants the chance to see how equipment is used to assess fitness levels. Students learned about the importance of nutrition and exercise on overall health and how professionals in these fields play a crucial role in helping patients lead healthy lives.

The camp included a learning style inventory for students to take in order to gain an understanding of how to succeed academically in order to reach their goals. The participants described the experience at Gateway as “epic,” and said that they appreciated the chance to spend time at the college. 

“I learned about how complex each area is and the amount of teamwork that is needed,” said one student, adding that the camp helped her to realize and identify different branches of medicine. 

Another camp participant said that she was happy to learn that she doesn’t have to see blood or work with needles in order to help patients. 

“I know exactly what I want my career to be and what colleges to look at,” she said.  “I love Gateway and I’m thinking about coming here.”