The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing hosted the inaugural Longhorn Nursing Immersion Summer Camp for high school students. The two-week, two-session camp introduced teens to the healthcare profession by increasing their knowledge and understanding in the field of nursing. DeAnna Baker, Learning Enhancement and Academic Progress Center (LEAP) special projects and training manager, and Leigh Goldstein, clinical associate professor and director of the LEAP Center, served as the camp organizers.
Fifty-seven high school students participated in several nursing activities, including hands-on skills, virtual reality, simulations led by UT Austin School of Nursing faculty, presentations and a field trip to Dell Seton Medical Center. The activities were led by registered nurses and were designed to expose students to a wide variety of nursing specialties and opportunities. Current School of Nursing students served as camp counselors.
Nursing student and camp counselor Anne Del Barrio volunteered as a way to meet high school students who are interested in nursing and/or wanted to attend the School of Nursing.
“I wanted to be able to teach them what I wish I knew before coming here,” Del Barrio said. “The skills they are learning is a review for me, but also, some of it I haven’t learned yet, so it’s a good head start for me to see what’s ahead this next year. While they are learning, I’m also learning with them.”
The camp provided high school students with basic knowledge about nursing and the requirements of becoming a registered nurse. The skills they learned included patient assessment, electrocardiogram (EKG) readings, patient bedside skills, giving oral and Intramuscular injection (IM) medication, using Electronic Health Record (EHR) Tutor, IV insertion, maternity simulation, caring for a newborn patient, feeding tube insertion on pediatric patients, as well as a disaster drill.
Goldstein had a vision in 2019 to develop a weeklong day camp for high school students who were interested in and wanted to know more about nursing. Unfortunately, the camp was delayed due to COVID-19, but after several years of planning, her vision came to fruition. The camp was the combined work of not only Dr. Goldstein but the entire LEAP department. The Simulation and Skills Center staff, joined by Lisa Costa, Nursing Academic and Community Education coordinator, contributed by setting up the lab-based activities.
High school student and camp participant Jordyn Robertson has always been attracted to UT and saw the camp as an opportunity to learn more about the School and to give nursing a try.
“This was an eye-opening experience for me, and it has provided really good exposure,” Robertson said. “I’ve realized how much nurses actually do. The movies and TV shows don’t give nurses the credit they deserve. My biggest takeaway is the work ethic and the amount of work it takes to be a successful nurse.”
Through this experience, the campers received hands-on experience, and if nursing is their career choice or not, this will either keep them on the path or pique their interest in nursing.
Baker and Goldstein said they hope the students are inspired by the registered and future registered nurses they interacted with, and that they learned that nursing is a rewarding career in health care.