Thursday, August 23, 2012

Healthcare Career Day at Camp Harbor View


Garrrett Zella, MD, high fives Olivia Williams, 11, who aspires to be a pediatrician one day.

On a sunny day at summer camp, a group of campers sat with a mix of curiosity and bewilderment as they watched a PillCam endoscopy video of the inside of a small intestine. Not just any day at Camp Harbor View, the demonstration was part of the Partners Health Explorers program career days, which introduced kids to health professionals and their careers. On July 11 and August 14, more than 50 volunteers from Partners HealthCare brought knowledge and exhibits to almost 400 campers each day.

As campers learned and asked questions about the tiny capsule camera, MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) pediatric gastroenterologist Garrett Zella, MD, asked them whether they had interest in medicine as a career. Olivia Williams, 11, piped in that she wanted to be a doctor, saying that when she goes to the hospital and sees sick kids, she feels sad and wants to help them. Another camper, Nicholas Correia, a rising 8th grader at Brimmer and May, was wowed by Dr. Zella’s PillCam demonstration.

“I’ve never seen anything like the PillCam. It was out of the ordinary and so cool,” Correia says. “With Dr. Zella’s exhibit, it was like we could experience how to be a doctor. We went on a scavenger hunt to find the problem in the body and locate where the blood wasn’t pumping well to figure out where the problem area was. It was like seeing exactly what a doctor sees!”

Along with Dr. Zella, MGHfC staff from Child Life and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) participated in the career days. Child Life Specialists Katie Weagle, CCLS, Hilary D’Amato, MS, CCLS, Melissa Whitty, MS, CCLS, and Jamie Rossi, CCLS, showed campers techniques used to calm pediatric patients during procedures. The campers drew on coffee filters with markers, and used plastic syringes to squirt water and tie-dye their drawings. PICU team members Justine Tennant, RN, BSN, Donna Larkin, RN, Anna Limone, RN, BSN, and Arlene Kelleher, MS, set up a relay race with campers to see who could dress in a hazardous materials suit, hair net mask, and then toss a ping pong ball into a bedpan the fastest.

Campers rotated throughout the day to learn about healthcare careers with MGHfC, Massachusetts General Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Spaulding Hospital and Children’s Hospital Boston. Camp Harbor View piloted the Partners Health Explorers program in the summer of 2011 and is planning to continue the program.

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