Merlene Davis: There's a summer camp for youth interested in medical careers

Dr. Donald Frazier, founder and director of the Unviersity of Kentucky Outreach Center for Science and Health Career Opportunities, talked with middle school students at the 2012 camp.
Dr. Donald Frazier, founder and director of the Unviersity of Kentucky Outreach Center for Science and Health Career Opportunities, talked with middle school students at the 2012 camp. Photo provided

When my daughter was of middle school age, she said she wanted to be a veterinarian. She loved animals and wanted to be able to make them feel better.

With that in mind, I called around trying to locate an animal clinic willing to take her on as a volunteer. What better way for her to see if that was truly what she wanted to do?

Remmele Animal Clinic agreed and, for a few hours each day that summer, she answered phones, watched minor surgical procedures and cleaned cages.

A similar learning experience for middle school students contemplating careers in the health field is being offered through a partnership between the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board and the Bluegrass Healthcare Consortium.

The Medical Career and Science Institute, a one-week summer camp at Spencerian College in Lexington, is accepting applications from students in grades six through eight who think they may want a career in health care or allied health. This is the second year for the camp.

The purpose, said Donna Mason, project manager for health care at the Bluegrass Workforce Investment Board, is to expose students early so they can sign up for the necessary coursework in high school.

The students' typical day will start with breakfast at 8:30 a.m., followed by a pre-test to determine how much they know about that day's subject matter. One day could be anatomy, which would take them into a lab where they would get a hands-on experience with skulls, skeletons and bones of various types.

"One day they will get CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training," Mason said, "and they will be certified that day."

One trip is scheduled to the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy in Louisville and another to the Minimally Invasive Surgery Lab at the University of Kentucky's Outreach Center for Science and Health Career Opportunities.

There will be classes in algebra, anatomy, physiology, trigonometry and chemistry, as well as hands-on experience in phlebotomy, radiology, First Responder Training, and the mechanics of the electrocardiogram, or EKG.

On June 14, students and their families will attend a graduation ceremony at which students present a project they have worked on. Each will be given a stethoscope.

"Health care is one of the four key industry drivers for economic development," Mason said. "The camp is supported by all the hospitals in the area and that is why we can host it free of charge. We are trying to develop a pipeline of students to go into health care."

Students in the 17 counties served by the Bluegrass Area Development District are eligible to apply, she said. The capacity is 24 students.

An application must be accompanied by two letters of reference, a 300-word essay and a school transcript.

Students who attended last year are eligible for the advanced summer camp this year.

Mason said the hope is to generate so much interest that next year more week-long camps will be held at more locations.

"The students don't know all those jobs that are in the field or the jobs that will evolve down the road," Mason said. "There is always a need for nurses and for technicians in allied health.

"Down the road, we'd like for the students to graduate from high school with an associates degree," she said. 


The Medical Career and Science Institute summer camp for middle school students


: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 10-14. Application deadline is April 26.

Where: Spencerian College, 1575 Winchester Rd.

Information: or (859) 269-8021, Ext. 316.