St. Francis Hospital's Summer Camp Puts Students In Front Row Seats
July 17, 2006
By MELISSA PIONZIO, Courant Staff Writer
Urine tests, body parts and sick patients are becoming familiar sights for nine Connecticut high school students this summer.
The three-week summer medical camp program at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford allows students to observe doctors, nurses, physician assistants and other health care professionals as they make their daily rounds, interact with patients and carry out the responsibilities of their jobs.
The students also attend classroom sessions, hear guest speakers, attend college and financial aid workshops and discuss career options. The program, which is free, is a collaboration between the hospital and Connecticut Central Area Health Education Center.
"Being here really helped me get used to the blood and guts of the medical business," said Bridgitte Velez, a sophomore at Bulkeley High School in Hartford. "Interacting with the patients is good because you get to know how they are feeling and to understand what is wrong with them."
After one week of camp, the students have visited the hospital's emergency department, pathology, ambulatory services/clinics, intensive care and occupational health.
"When we were in pathology, we saw dead fetuses, skin, bones, buckets of tissue and eyes," said Bridgitte, who plans to pursue a career as a mortician. "The eyes were kind of gross, but you get used to it. You sort of have to have a sense of humor about it to get through it."
In the children's clinic, Jessica Nunez, a recent graduate of Hartford Public High School, observed medical assistant Annette Zavala as she processed urine and pregnancy tests and checked the blood pressures and heart rates of her adolescent patients.
"I like the way they take care of the patients, how they are responsible for them and how patient they are with them," said Jessica, who plans to enroll in the nursing program at Capital Community College.
Wethersfield High School senior Sarah Wallace donned a white lab coat and protective glasses as she watched pathology assistant Colleen Hebert cut up and prod breast tissue to determine if cancer was present.
"I'm very grateful to take part in this program," said Sarah, who plans to study nursing once she graduates from high school. "I get a deeper understanding of the world of medicine. It's very complex."
During her time in the emergency department, Sarah Rahman, a senior at Pomperaug High School in Southbury, said she watched as doctors were unable to resuscitate a 6-month-old child in cardiac arrest.
"It was hard. You have to get used to it in a field like this," said Sarah, who is interested in becoming a doctor. "It gives you a lot of insight into the daily life of a physician."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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