MultiCare Nurse Camp offers hands-on lessons in health care

Surgery is difficult duty. That's what Salma Ramadan concluded after getting the feel of the operating room at Tacoma General Hospital last Friday.

Kent’s Salma Ramadan practices her suturing technique on a pig’s foot during the annual MultiCare Nurse Camp. Graham Barr

Kent’s Salma Ramadan practices her suturing technique on a pig’s foot during the annual MultiCare Nurse Camp. Graham Barr

Surgery is difficult duty.

That’s what Salma Ramadan concluded after getting the feel of the operating room at Tacoma General Hospital last Friday.

“It takes a lot of effort and pressure,” said Ramadan, a Kent-Meridian High School student, after performing a “Skittle-ectomy” during the MultiCare Nurse Camp. “I didn’t think it would be this exciting, but it is.”

Taking candy from a mannequin laying prone on the table was just a part of the weeklong hands-on experience for Ramadan and 99 other high school students from 31 cities who participated in the 10th annual Nurse Camp at Tacoma General, Mary Bridge, Allenmore and Good Samaritan hospitals last week.

The four-day camp gave students an inside look at careers in the health care world. Students spent time in departments at MultiCare’s hospitals, visited local colleges and universities, and participated in rotations throughout the hospital network.

Ramadan came away impressed.

“I love it. It’s very educational, informative and I get to explore all the things that I never thought I could before,” she said.

“I like the medical field. I am not exactly sure what I want to do, but this is a good opportunity just to explore what they have.”

Like Ramadan, specialized nursing caught the curiosity of Kentlake’s Courtney Roberts. Roberts, whose mother and grandmother were nurses, might follow in their footsteps, possibly as a trauma nurse.

“They do everything, the tricks of the trade,” she said. “They can do just about everything, a lot of fast-pitched stuff. It’s very busy. It’s a lot of fun.”

Roberts and other students learned that nurses do much more than draw blood and take temperatures.

At camp, students examined pig hearts and LVADs (left ventricular assist devices), learned how to prepare pediatric patients for tests/procedures, practiced with c-collar/backboards and performed neuro checks.

In the operating room, students discovered high-tech surgeries. They also job shadowed various units and departments at the hospitals.

Ten years ago, MultiCare realized the need to encourage a more diverse and well-prepared health care work force. In 2004, MultiCare began supporting the weeklong day camp that is free to area students. As well as increasing ethnic and racial diversity in health care, a growing number of young men are pursuing careers in nursing, a trend MultiCare Nurse Camp encourages and supports.

“Nurse Camp allows students to explore nursing and other health careers through hands-on activities, job shadowing and discussions with health professionals, visits to local nursing schools and much more,” said Nurse Camp Director Jamilia Sherls, MPH, BSN, RN. “They also receive a stethoscope and medical scissors to use during assessment activities.

“From these experiences, it is my hope that Nurse Camp students begin to visualize themselves as future nurses and become even more motivated to pursue this career path,” Sherls said. “It would be great if these students returned to MultiCare one day as a nurse or another health professional.”

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