The Sanford School of Medicine is busier this week thanks to a group of 50 visiting high school students.
The high-schoolers are incoming sophomores, juniors and seniors who are here to take part in the 2011 Health Care Careers Summer Camp, which takes place over five days each June. The camp concludes today (Friday).
�It�s a camp that explores all different areas of health care that will introduce students to what kind of education they would need for the different things they might be doing on a typical day, and just what they could expect from a career in that specific profession,� explained camp coordinator Kathy Van Kley.
In their time in Vermillion, the students will listen to speakers, perform many hands-on activities and take tours of Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, Sanford Research Labs, Southeast Area Tech and one of USD�s gross anatomy labs, among other locations.
Perhaps most importantly, they will have an opportunity to ask questions of working medical professionals.
�If it�s something they weren�t sure they were interested in, they get the opportunity to talk to somebody that works in the field, whereas they may not have that opportunity (elsewhere),� Van Kley said. �Many, many of our kids are from rural communities, so to have professionals � that they can actually ask the questions, they might not have that in their home communities.�
This is the camp�s fifth year in existence, and Van Kley said the camp follows roughly the same schedule each year.
The one major change is in the number of potential participants, she said.
�We had probably almost 90 applications this year, and were able to take 50 of them. It�s gotten very competitive this year,� she said. �We have never had as many applicants as we have this year. This is the first year that we�ve had to cap it, so it�s continued to increase every year, and based on that, whether it does continue to do that, we may need to make some changes in the future such as adding a second week or reevaluating how many we can take.�
Although the majority of the students come from South Dakota, some are from other states, as well � one is from Minnesota, one if from Iowa and two more are from Nebraska.
�They are very, very intelligent students,� Van Kley said. �They�re invited based on their academic records, the amount of volunteer hours they�ve had, if they�ve already pursued some shadowing opportunities prior to coming to the camp. They�ll write a personal statement about why they are interested in going into health care, why they�re interested in going to the camp.�
Lodging is provided to the students in the USD residence halls, while meals take place in the campus dining hall.
The 2011 Health Care Careers Summer Camp is supported by grants and funding provided by agencies including the South Dakota Department of Health, the Sanford Vermillion Medical Center, the Sanford School of Medicine and the Dakota Hospital Foundation.