UW News

August 19, 2010

UW Nurse Camp creates collegiate opportunities for minority and low-income high school students

The UW School of Nursing hosted Nurse Camp 2010  from July 12-16. The free day camp was designed for underprivileged and underrepresented high school juniors and sophomores interested in exploring the nursing profession and preparing themselves to pursue a college degree.

Across the nation, experts predict a nursing shortfall in 2018 that will grow to about 260,000 nurses by 2025. A recent survey showed that 45 percent of high school-age students are not considering a career in a health care- or science-related field. Among those who reported no interest, approximately 22 percent said they did not know enough about careers in these fields to pursue them, and some felt intimidated by the difficulty of the subject matter. The May 2010 survey of 604 students was conducted by Harris Interactive for University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Nurse Camp‘s main goal is to provide a pipeline to college for minority and low-income students in the Puget Sound considering the nursing field.

“Nurse Camp opens the door to all areas of nursing and other medical disciplines that nurses are involved with,” said volunteer Genevieve Hamilton, a program coordinator in the psychosocial and community health department.

The idea for Nurse Camp came out of the Student Diversity Awareness Group’s desire to better create a sense of community and inclusion for populations underrepresented in nursing. Out of over 100 applicants, 24were chosen. There were 22 minority participants, including 2 men.

“The camp has made a large impact on my impression of nursing,” commented participant Tammy Do. “There is a stereotype where nurses clean up beds and do the dirty work, but it is way more than that. Nurses provide the foundation of care for each patient. They know everything about the patient and have a bond with them. There is passion behind nursing.”

Activities included a first day of crash courses for hospital staff. The students got basic training in  first aid, CPR, HIPPA (patient privacy laws), hand washing, and infection control. The campers spent the rest of the week shadowing nurses at the University of Washington Medical Center, practicing nurse skills in the learning lab, and discovering different nurse specialties in a nursing “speed date” where campers met and talked with nurses working in all areas of health care, from forensic and public health to emergency and research.

“It has been an unbelievable week, better than we ever expected,” commented Carolyn Chow, camp co-creator, during the final day of camp. “The kids are highly motivated, energy is up and they are having a lot of fun. It is a long day and we are really running them, but they keep absorbing and participating.”