The MultiCare Health System Nurse Camp celebrated 10 years last week and introduced a new class of 100 students from regional high schools who are interested in the nursing profession.
From July 16 through Friday, the students learned about various jobs that are performed by registered nurses in different hospital settings, such as emergency room, oncology, pediatrics and surgery. Much of the learning was done at MultiCare’s main campus at Tacoma General Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.
On Thursday, 30 students, including 10 from Puyallup high schools, performed job shadows in various areas of the Dally Tower at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup.
Kenzie McNeel, 17, a senior at Puyallup High, job shadowed in the special care nursery, part of the Family Birth Center.
“I’m observing nurses, asking lots of questions and getting more insight on what they do,” McNeel said.
McNeel volunteered at Good Samaritan as part of the Medical Explorers when the hospital managed the program. She said she will start as a regular volunteer at the hospital in a few weeks.
“It makes people happy,” McNeel said. “Being here as a volunteer brightens people’s day.”
McNeel plans to attend the University of Washington and enter the pre-medical program.
The nurse camp culminated with a final project and test.
“They learn different nursing assessment skills, like how to calculate a heart rate and what to do in the event of a diabetes crisis,” nurse camp director Jamilia Sherls said. “They have to demonstrate their skills in four different scenarios.”
Following the test, the day culminated with a college fair and graduation. There were representatives from the Pierce County Nurses Association, as well as campus representatives from Tacoma Community College, Pacific Luther University, Highline Community College, Green River Community College, South Puget Sound Community College, Northwest University and the UW’s Tacoma campus. The Princeton Review also was there to provide students tips on how to prepare for college tests.
Sherls said MultiCare started the nurse camp in 2004 in response to an expected nursing shortage and the demand for increased diversity within the health care workforce. Students who apply for the camp are sophomores and juniors at high schools within the MultiCare Health System service area. Other qualifications are based on grade-point average, a personal statement that explains the student’s interest in nursing, plus transcripts, a recommendation from the assistant principal of the school and an explanation of what activities the student is involved with inside and outside of school.
“I think this class is very energetic and very capable,” Sherls said. “They ask a lot of questions and are very curious, which are very good qualities to have going into nursing.”
Across the MultiCare Health System, there were 201 open nursing positions as of press time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurse tops the list of 30 occupations with the largest projected job growth from 2010-20. In total, the BLS anticipates 711,900 more nursing jobs will be added to by 2020, a 26 percent increase from 2010.
Other BLS statistics show that more than 50 percent of the nursing workforce is near retirement age. With the changes in health care reform providing more access to millions of Americans and more Americans entering retirement, the BLS projects there will be more demand for nurses and health professionals to respond.
Sherls said the nurse camp has graduated more than 800 students since 2004 and always focuses on diversity.
“We want to increase the number of men in nursing,” she said. “This year, the nurse camp admitted 10 young men. We would like to attract more and see that number increase.”
Alan Cardenas, 16, a junior at Fife High School, participated in a job shadow during Good Samaritan Day. He plans to be a doctor and pursue pre-med at the University of Washington.
“I wanted to see what nurses do and how the doctors interact with the nurses,” Cardenas said.
Beyond bringing more men into the program, Sherls said this year’s group came from different ethnic backgrounds, including African American, Asian and Latin American. Two practicing Muslims also were in the group.
During graduation on Friday, each student received a MultiCare Star Pin and a certificate for participating in the program.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.