What’s it like to be a hospital nurse? Is nursing the career for me? Thirty teens from throughout Solano County learned the answers to these questions and more at Nurse Camp 2010, held June 22 to 25 at NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville and NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield.
The program gives students the opportunity to experience the wide range of careers available to hospital nurses. Each year, teens are surprised to find that they don’t sit in a classroom all day. Instead, they get hands-on experience with a number of nursing skills. In the course of four days, they applied soft casts to each other’s arms, experienced laparoscopic surgery on a melon, and learned to take blood pressure, give shots and start IVs. For the first time, students experienced delivering a baby, thanks to one of
NorthBay’s computer-operated simulation models.
NorthBay Nurse Camp began in 2005 as a way to introduce high school students to careers in nursing. This year, 60 students applied for the 30 spaces available in the camp. Students came from Dixon, Vacaville, Benicia, Fairfield and Vallejo.
More than 20 NorthBay nurses and a number of other medical professionals contribute to the program. “We work all year planning activities for Nurse Camp,” says Mary Hempen, R.N., one of the camp’s founders.
“Each year we listen to the students’ feedback and use it to further develop the program.”
This year the student feedback was unanimous—Nurse Camp is
Camp Inspires New Nurse
When nurses at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield designed their award-winning Nurse Camp in 2005, they hoped to encourage teens to consider nursing careers. Six years later, Nurse Camp welcomed its first success story: Meredith Oates, R.N.
The newly minted nurse opened Day 1 of camp just a week after graduating from nursing school, telling a whole new set of nurse campers what exciting days they were about to experience.
“Four years ago I sat right where you are today,” she told the 30 teens.”Nurse Camp is the reason I’m a nurse today.”
“We are all so proud of her success,” says Mary Hempen, R.N., an ICU nurse and a nurse camp founder. A few months before the 2006 camp began, Meredith had dropped in on a Nursing Club meeting at her high school—not to hear about nursing but for the free pizza. What she learned from a NorthBay nurse ambassador that day changed the course of her life.
“I’ll never forget how she came home after the second meeting and told us she wanted to become a nurse,” says her mother, Stephanie Oates, of Vacaville. “A scramble ensued while we frantically checked out nursing programs and cancelled her plans to attend another university.”
Meredith was accepted into the nursing program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego and earned her degree on May 15.
“Nursing school wasn’t easy,” she told the campers. “But I never found a department that I didn’t want to work in.”