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MASH Camps to teach students about medical careers

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LOWVILLE — So many north country students wanted to attend this year’s Medical Academy for Science and Health Camp that the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization had to put the overflow on a waiting list for next year’s program.

Yvette D. Pearson, FDRHPO’s pipeline outreach coordinator, said she received 72 applications for 68 spots among Lewis County General Hospital; River Hospital, Alexandria Bay; Carthage Area Hospital; Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown; and Jefferson Community College, Watertown. Only about 50 people participated last year, when it was run by the former Northern New York Rural Healthcare Alliance.

The program is for students entering grades eight to 12 who want to experience and explore health careers.

Meghan M. Schulz, a participant in this week’s MASH Camp at Lewis County General Hospital, said she signed up for the program to learn more about different medical careers. The 17-year-old will be a senior at Lowville Academy and Central School this fall.

“I’ve been thinking somewhat about being an EMT but wanted to take a full glance at a hospital,” she said, as she and five fellow participants worked through a forensics exercise Thursday at the hospital.

The forensics activity, which was organized partially by former MASH Camp participant Corrie A. Schell, had students think about DNA testing, footprints, smells, fingerprints, stains and various tests and clues. Miss Schell said she attended the program from 2006 to 2008, when it was known as Camp Med. While on summer break from studying for her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Roberts Wesleyan College, Rochester, Miss Schell specifically came back to Lewis County General to volunteer for MASH Camp.

“It’s a great opportunity if you’re interested in a medical field and can see all aspects of a hospital, especially a rural hospital,” she said.

Kathy M. Millard, the hospital’s staff development coordinator, said the forensics activity usually is the most popular because students often watch crime shows on television. During this week’s MASH Camp at Lewis County General, students also visited the emergency, nursing, X-ray, physical therapy and laboratory departments and the dementia/Alzheimer’s unit.

“It’s kids with character who want to do good things,” Mrs. Millard said. “They want to solve the world’s problems and help people get better.”

MASH Camps will be held at other participating hospitals later this summer.

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