University News

Teens Become Doctors for a Day at SUU

Published: June 17, 2008 | Category: Community Outreach

Not many high school students have their futures planned far beyond the switching of the tassel, and while many have ideas of what might work, at 18, it’s hard to be certain the path they’ve selected will lead to both success and satisfaction. Enter the Southern Utah University Center for Rural Health’s annual Health Career Exploration Camp.

To help soon-to-be college students make decisions about their future, every summer SUU invites students from more than 95 Utah high schools to Cedar City to try the scrubs on for size. This year’s camp, the tenth annual such camp, was held last week, and helped high school students explore the health care industry, by providing three-days of hands-on learning opportunities for all in attendance.

According to Camp Coordinator Carrie Torgerson, “The goal for this camp is simple: we hope to help address the ever-increasing need for rural health care workers in Utah by giving students in rural areas an opportunity to learn about health care careers in a hands-on way that is not always available in smaller cities and towns. Our hope is that by introducing these specific students to a future in health care, we’re able to plant the seeds for success in a health care career that may lead the students back to a rural area for work after their education is finished.”

This camp also helps students get one step ahead of the competition for medical school acceptance before they’ve even begun their undergraduate college careers.

This year’s featured careers included, Respiratory Therapy, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Medical Technologist, Physician, Veterinarian, Forensic Science, EMT, Radiologist, Pharmacist, Geneticist, and Dentist.

Over the week, visiting high school students rotated among 16 different workshops. Some of the workshops featured health career skills where participants learned to how to suture, cast arms, check blood sugar levels, take a blood pressure, intubate and maintain an airway, give an injection, provide first-aid, use and read an EKG machine, take an x-ray and more.

In science labs, students looked at blood smears through microscopes, learned how diseases are spread, extracted their own DNA, made their own teeth impressions, dissected sheep eyes and cow hearts, learned how to investigate a crime scene and learned about pharmacy by making their own lip balm.

Camp instructors are gathered from across the state and across health professions to give students a variety of perspectives into health services.

In addition to their time in the classroom last week, the students also participated in the SUU Challenge Course where they learned team-work and leadership skills. And a dance and catered dinners gave students from all across the state the opportunity to meet others with similar interests—and with whom they may one day find in their college classes.

Beyond teaching students about a wide array of professional opportunities within the health services field, the camp is also designed to expose students to the college lifestyle. To this end, participants were housed in SUU’s Eccles Living Learning Center where they learned to both live and study with one another.

According to Torgerson, camp enrollment grows each year, with this year’s group being the largest to date.

The Health Career Exploration Camp will be held again next year at Southern Utah University in June. For more information about future camps, or to learn more about the Utah Center for Rural Health visit their website at You may also call 1-888-89RURAL.

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