At MultiCare Nurse Camp earlier this month, Eatonville High School student Haley Lay, left, participates in the program.
Photo provided
At MultiCare Nurse Camp earlier this month, Eatonville High School student Haley Lay, left, participates in the program. Photo provided

More than 105 high school students got a hands-on look at careers in nursing and health care at the 16th annual MultiCare Nurse Camp held recently, July 15–19.

Students tried out medical devices and performed “Skittlectomies” on mannequins. They toured operating rooms, emergency departments and patient rooms at five of MultiCare’s western Washington hospitals — Tacoma General Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Allenmore Hospital and Auburn Medical Center.

Haley Lay, 16, will be a junior at Eatonville High School in September. Lay has been considering going into the medical field, because she’s been exposed to quite a few medical professionals as a competitive cheerleader.

“I’ve had lots of injuries because I’m accident prone,” she said, laughing. “You name it, any medical specialty, I’ve seen them.”

Originally, Lay was thinking of a future as a pediatric surgeon. She’s now more interested in becoming a pediatric nurse. While recovering from shoulder surgery, Lay says she had a particularly good experience with a nurse.

“I had a great nurse. He was hilarious,” she said. “I even nominated him for an award.”

Lay feels that of all the medical professions, one can get to know nurses the best.

“You can connect with nurses the most,” she said. “I like the impact they have on children. I definitely want to work with children.”

Even though Lay was sick and missed a couple of days of Nurse Camp, she’s enjoyed the experience, especially the hands-on aspect.

“It’s great how realistic they’ve made it,” she said.

MultiCare Nurse Camp, which aims to increase diversity in health care, saw 109 students representing 20 western Washington cities and towns this year.

Nurse Camp is free to the students and gives an inside look at careers in health care. Students spend time in departments at MultiCare’s hospitals, visit local colleges and universities and participate in hands-on rotations.

MultiCare has long recognized the need to encourage a more diverse and well-prepared health care workforce, holding the first Nurse Camp in 2004 with 30 students. In addition to increasing ethnic and racial diversity in health care, recruiting efforts this year gave extra care and consideration to underrepresented students.

“I was very excited to have such a diverse group of high school students, eager to learn about nursing and allied health professions,” said Nancy Thompkins, Nurse Camp program coordinator and community outreach liaison for the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living.

Highlights of MultiCare Nurse Camp:

Hands-on station rotation, job shadowing, operating room experience, emergency department experience.

Nurse Camp students shared their experiences throughout the week on social media using the hashtag #nursecamprocks.