Summer Camp Introduces High School Students to Health Careers

By Yavonda Chase

The draw was Find Your Future in Healthcare, a free three-day camp for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors held twice in July. Each iteration of the camp drew about 80 students.

“Our hope is to not only draw those who will become tomorrow’s doctors of family medicine but also find the nurses, pharmacists, therapists and technicians who will be working across the health care spectrum,” said Yalanda Merrell, of UAMS Northeast Campus in Jonesboro, one of the program coordinators.

To that end, each camp included a series of eight different career spotlights, 30-minute sessions in which participants could meet virtually with a professional and get an overview of the career, including day-to-day tasks and educational requirements. Those spotlights included family medicine, respiratory therapy, emergency room nursing, behavioral health, health coaching, nurse anesthetist, pharmacist and medical laboratory science.

“We want students to realize that working in health care doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a doctor,” said Merrell. “And even ‘becoming a doctor’ can mean a lot of different things in health care.”

Outside of the career spotlights, each day included activities to help participants get to know each other, to test their knowledge via trivia and to get to see professional work environments firsthand by video tours at UAMS Regional Campuses across the state.

Each day also included skill-building exercises to help students on the path to health careers, with workshops including interviews and resume writing and another on how to get started in various careers such as medical, pharmacy or veterinary tech, medical scribe, EMT, phlebotomy and more.

“These camps were truly a statewide effort,” added Merrell. “Not only in terms of student involvement but also in terms of facilitation. We’re grateful to the many people from Regional Campuses all over the state who signed in to participate, teach and help guide these students as they learn about career choices.”

This event was a collaborative effort between UAMS Regional Campuses and a federal HRSA grant, Arkansas AHEC Point of Service Maintenance/Enhancement Program. This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an annual award totaling $2,371,760 with 50 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.