Scrubs Camp: Hands-On Learning about Health Care Careers

by: Faith Cable Kumon and Misun Bormann, Central Corridor Anchor Partnership
April 2, 2014

Scrubs Camps inspire young people from the Central Corridor neighborhoods to pursue the training and education needed for a career in health care.   The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is proud to host two Urban Scrubs Camps as part of the Partnership’s Workforce Development initiative.   HealthForce Minnesota is a key partner in the planning process, which is currently underway for 2014.  Valerie DeFor, Interim Executive Director of HealthForce Minnesota, sees Scrubs Camps as a first step for students, “Exploring health careers in an engaging and interactive way is a great way to support students as they start making decisions about their future.”

These camps offer high school students the opportunity to engage in an immersion experience to explore careers in health and medicine including: dentistry, nursing, public health, physical therapy, biomedical engineering, and much more.   Scrub Camp participants are actively engaged in hands-on sessions, tour of medical facilities, and interact with a variety of practitioners and professionals from the health care field.  One student said afterward last year, “After this experience I am 100% certain that I want to work in the medical field.”

The Scrubs Camp at Augsburg College will be held from July 7 – 11, and can accept up to 100 and the Saint Paul College camp will be held from July 21 – 24 and can accept up to 70 students.  As of March 19, 2014, there are 30 students registered at the Augsburg College camp and 16 registered at the Saint Paul College camp. 

“This scholarship has given me the drive and inspiration I needed to really open myself to the world of healthcare,” one camper recognized.  The camps intentionally recruit students from very diverse backgrounds to attend and provide scholarships to cover the $350-400 cost per student.  HealthForce Minnesota, Augsburg College, and Saint Paul College raise scholarships from Central Corridor Anchor Partnership members and from other sources, allowing participation by lower-income students who might not have other opportunities to learn about health care careers.   Last year 70% of the Augsburg College campers received a scholarship.  See more about registration and scholarships here.

By using college labs and facilities, attending sessions in college classrooms, and eating meals in the cafeteria, campers have the chance to experience what it is like to be on a college campus.  Post-camp surveys have confirmed that this experience has been transformative for most participants, sparking interest in particular health careers and inspiring students to pursue higher education.   One student highlights this enthusiasm, “This camp made me discover what I want to do in the future! Thank you!”

The camp theme for this year is mental health, offering stress balls in each camper’s bag and special sessions on careers in mental health.  The camps will close with keynote speaker Pete Feigal, a national motivational speaker on mental illness and disabilities.  Camp sessions this year will also incorporate CPR to help our campers be prepared as they go back to school in the fall of 2014, to be ahead of the new state legislative requirements for high school students to graduate with CPR.  The variety of topics in healthcare careers may vary by site, but all campers will experience hands-on activities and field trips to various healthcare facilities and/or higher educational institutions. 

“We never know what session is going to impact which camper but, inevitably, there is that one moment when you see that light bulb go on and you know you’ve made a difference,” notes Valerie DeFor. “It might be the adrenaline rush of delivering a baby in the SimBus or the tenderness that comes through when giving an elderly resident a hand massage.  Or maybe it’s the empathy that comes from touring the Amplatz Children’s Hospital or the appreciation of cultural differences that happens through team building.  All we know is that it happens – all the time – at Scrubs Camp.”