Health Care Academy explores a variety of health professions

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Ambulances, CPR and hospital visits don’t usually garner enthusiasm, but for 23 Tennessee high school students at the 2014 Lipscomb-HCA/TriStar Health Care Academy, it was just what the doctor ordered. 

Throughout the week, the camp provided a variety of health care-related experiences in pharmacy, nursing, nutrition and exercise science. Students participated in drug compounding and conducting experiments in science laboratories as well as getting hands-on instruction in CPR, basic first aid, EKGs (electrocardiograms) and AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and non-invasive measurements such as blood pressure and pulse.

The students also toured the inside of an HCA ambulance and worked with Lipscomb’s patient simulators, which resemble lifelike mannequins with the ability to display symptoms and respond to treatments.

Some students came to the camp equipped with CPR certification. Campers McKenna Ligon, a rising sophomore from Nashville, and Veronica Parker, a rising junior from Memphis, boasted previous knowledge of CPR, but said they had plenty to learn in other sessions despite their existing knowledge of CPR.

“This camp really piques your interest and opens your eyes to more fields in the profession that you didn’t really know existed,” Ligon said.

Students also toured a local hospital operated by TriStar, the region’s largest health care provider.

“Just going to a hospital and seeing the pace and stress level gives you an idea of what it’s like,” Ligon said. “We got to go through labs that required passes to enter, and now that I’ve been through that, I know I don’t want to be in a lab all day. I’d rather be with patients. This camp has made me surer of what I want to do.”

Sessions also introduced students to topics on nutrition, fitness, biomimicry (using models found in nature to scientifically solve problems) and other health-related career fields.

They even learned about medical work in the mission field from Tamara Baird, a Lipscomb nursing instructor who provided medical treatment to the Shuar tribe located in the Amazon rain forests of Ecuador. She displayed a shrunken head as an illustration of the cultural differences that exist around the world and the importance of respecting tribal leadership and customs even when providing medical services. 

During a session on communicating with patients, Parker also learned about the importance of communicating with those around her.

“In general, you have to communicate with people, and I’ve really gotten a chance to hang out with new and different people,” Parker said. “Being in uncomfortable situations helps you overcome your shyness. This camp helps you think about what you really want to do. I’m being introduced to new things.”