Friday, August 3, 2012

Medical Camps Inspire Future Healthcare Workers

What started out in 2008 as an ambitious experiment has become a Fauquier Hospital tradition. VIPeds (Very Important Pediatrics) Medical Camps have become more popular every year; before the summer is over, about 100 students will have explored different medical professions through the unique – and immensely fun --- two-day camps.

The most recent level one camp was held July 11 and 12. Students harvested corneas, typed their own blood, stitched wounds and participated in a mock code in the Emergency Department. In level two camps (which began July 25), the teenagers learned advanced suturing, applied a cast, handled a patient on a backboard and performed a full forensic dissection and examination of a preserved fetal pig specimen.

Response from the kids, as always, has been enthusiastic. Julie Fainter, one of the organizers of the program, said, “The kids tend to be kind of quiet during our short orientation session the morning of the first day, but as we go through the different modules, they become more and more excited about what they are doing. By the time we get to the obstacle course at the end of the second day, they have bonded with their group, and there is a lot of chattering and laughter. Their voices grow louder and louder as they try to speak over each other to share their stories from the week.” The obstacle course sets half a dozen tasks for the health-workers-in-training – bandaging a wound on their “patient,” putting them in an isolation gown and mask, feeding them applesauce, putting on a compression stocking and placing their arm in a sling. They manage this all while wearing “drunk” goggles, which impair their sight as if they were tired or drunk. It’s a lesson we hope they’ll never forget.”

Universally, what the students appreciate most about the camps is the hands-on learning, said Fainter. “They are so surprised when they hear they are going to create a sterile field and actually learn how to suture. Some of the students are really adept at it. They have great hand-eye coordination. They love the adrenaline rush of the mock emergency in the Emergency Room, and when you hand them a scalpel and show them how to harvest a cornea, they are completely engaged.”

“This has been my favorite part of the summer,” said 15-year -old Warrenton resident Cassandra Lubowsky. “I am a Type 1 diabetic, so I found endocrinology to be very interesting.”

Cassandra, like many others in the program, has considered a career as a doctor. The Medical Camp experience showed Cassandra how the different elements of a hospital work together -- volunteers, doctors, nurses and staff. “I look forward to volunteering in the hospital later this summer,” says Cassandra, “and hope to participate in the level two program next year.”

Thirteen-year-old Logan Love used the opportunity to confirm that he wanted to become an Emergency Room doctor. “The ED mock code was such an adrenaline rush, I would compare it to being on a roller coaster,” said Logan. “We worked as a team and I feel like that is what they do here at Fauquier Hospital.”

Many of the teenagers are also participating in the health system’s Jr. Volunteer program. Each volunteer spends two weeks of the summer volunteering in the hospital, the Fauquier Health Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, or at The Villa at Suffield Meadows.

Kudos go to Julie Fainter and Wendy Greenwood of the VIPeds Committee and to the many, many clinical personnel who worked with the students this summer. Staff members from Blue Ridge Orthopaedic and Spine Center were among those who instructed the children, and Tamela Jenkins, Heather Reid, and Nicole Polster were also very involved in leading the level one camp sessions.

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