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ASU health camp inspires high school students and camp counselors alike

woman demonstrating dental technique to students

A dental hygienist from Fortis College demonstrates fluoride varnishing to students participating in the Summer Health Institute on July 26.

August 07, 2017

The College of Health Solutions recently completed its fourth year of the Summer Health Institute at Arizona State University. A new cohort of 24 high school seniors representing three states, selected from 215 competing applicants, participated in the immersive experience while living on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus.

The Summer Health Institute, led by senior director of academic services Nate Wade, has provided nearly 100 high school seniors the opportunity to experience various aspects of health and health care prior to enrolling in college. For the first two cohorts, 100 percent enrolled in either a community college or a four-year university.

“Half of our Summer Health Institute alumni have enrolled at ASU with many also choosing to join Barrett, The Honors College,” Wade said.

Institute alumni have also enrolled at highly selective institutions of higher education including Stanford, Vanderbilt, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Duke and the University of Chicago.

“This program wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated financial support, time and energy from our sponsors and volunteers,” Wade said.

Over the course of the weeklong program, the students connected with members of the medical community and had a taste of what they do on a daily basis. Through three hours of daily simulations at the ASU Simulation Center and the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix campus (scrubbing, gowning and gloving, taking vitals, IVs, suturing, ultrasound, intubation, cadaver examination), they engaged in hands-on activities most college undergraduate students would not have had the opportunity to experience until professional school.

They also toured health care facilities located within the health corridor of Arizona, including Creighton University School of Medicine at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, which was a new addition to the program.

The students who participated in this year’s activities — along with program counselors like ASU student Joshua Slusher — enjoyed their exposure to health fields they did not even know existed. Slusher is a medical studies major in the College of Health Solutions and a Residential College Student Leader. He and the participants interacted with nearly every component of the medical professions: physician assistants, nurses, hospital residents and medical school students, dental hygienists, physicians, physical and occupational therapists, and administrators within hospitals and medical schools.

Camp participants met and talked with some outstanding professionals in the medical field, including Dr. Richard R. Heuser, a world-renowned cardiologist and member of ASU College of Health Solutions’ Development Council (who demonstrated a sheep-heart dissection and stents); Dr. Randy Richardson, a radiologist and the Phoenix regional associate dean at Creighton University School of Medicine; and Dr. Teresa Wu, emergency medicine attending physician and director of Emergency Ultrasound Program and Fellowships for Banner University Medical Center-Phoenix.

The experience was not only enlightening, but it gave both the students and the Summer Health Institute counselors the opportunity to exercise their networking skills, which they will need in the near future to build their professional connections.

The students were divided into four groups and were provided a case study that they investigated to identify one of four genetic disorders. They researched the disorders throughout the week and presented to a panel of professional judges during their final day.

One of the Summer Health Institute’s sponsors, Affiliated Dermatology, sent their chief resident, Dr. Dustin Mullens, to judge the final presentations.

"The Summer Health Institute at ASU provides a unique opportunity for rising high school seniors interested in fields within the health care arena to come together for one week and learn both as an individual and as a member of a team,” Mullens said. “This culminated with the creation of four exceptional college-level presentations on various health diseases; educating their peers and guests, an essential component for any health care professional and life-long learner."

ASU student Keana Nguyen also served as a camp counselor this year. When Nguyen was a high school senior three years ago, she was part of the Summer Health Institute’s first cohort.

“From a young age, I had always been interested in helping others and I wanted to be involved in the medical field," she said. "Going through this program, it intensified the drive in me to become a pediatrician even further. Doing all the activities and simulations and talking to people about their careers was so cool to me.”

“Going through the program a second time as a counselor made me realize how much impact the first time had on me as a high school student,” Nguyen said. “It’s a great way for high school students to get a first-hand look into the medical field before they start their college careers. Thanks to the Summer Health Institute, I believe that I have the right combination of skills, resources and knowledge to make it through my last two years as an undergrad and will continue on to graduate school with confidence.”

All costs associated with the 2017 Summer Health Institute were generously underwritten by Affiliated Dermatology, Creighton University School of Medicine, and Dignity Health. 

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