2015 camp participants

2015 camp participants

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University Texas AHEC East-Piney Woods Region recently held a health careers camp for students enrolled in Shelby County ISDs.

This year's camp hosted 45 high school students who gained hands-on experiences and knowledge about health careers in their field of interest. The students spent three days participating in activities that educated them in individual health careers, health career training programs and college preparation.

"Students have an opportunity to meet local health care professionals in their communities and build long-lasting relationships," said Mavis Yarbrough, health careers and promotion coordinator for TAE-PWR.

Yarbrough added that the overall goal is for students to complete college and return to their communities as health care professionals.

On the camp's first day, students heard from physician assistant students who are currently serving clinical rotations in the East Texas area. As part of a current grant program through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Physician Assistant Learner Support program allows for participating students to receive information regarding various aspects of this field. This grant program teaches high school students about the PA profession and how to enter the field, as well as how to gain PA shadowing experience. Students also learned about other health careers, hands-only CPR and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

During the camp, students had the opportunity to shadow PAs, physical therapists, nurses, physicians and other allied health professionals at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital.

"The staff and I enjoyed having the students join us," said Nicki Gregston, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital nurse. "We see a lot of nursing and physician assistant students but rarely get the opportunity to interact with high school students. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the day."

Students also toured the SFA campus and visited with faculty members and students. They experienced college life, learned how to apply for various programs, gained insight into different educational paths and acquired various important college resources. Drs. Alan Larson and Robert Choate with the SFA Department of Human Services gave an insightful presentation about understanding patients with disabilities, as well.

The camp concluded with student presentations highlighting individual experiences captured during the event.

"My experience at AHEC was an unforgettable experience," said Alexis Salas, Center High School student. "It opened my eyes to the real world and let me see what I would be dealing with if I were to become a CRNA. My AHEC experience helped me know for sure that I want to be a CRNA and with hard work, I will achieve it."

Among other supporters, this year's TAE-PWR health careers camp was made possible by Glenda Webb, registered nurse at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital; Alease Copelin, career technology counselor for Center High School; and Karen Fallin, counselor for Tenaha High School.

TAE-PWR is a grant-funded program of SFA, which strives to create healthier communities through growing a quality health care workforce. Annual health career camps allow TAE-PWR to provide opportunities for communities to grow their own future health care workforce.

To learn more about Texas AHEC East-Piney Woods Region and its programs, contact Mark Scott at (936) 468-6901 or visit http://www.pwahec.org/.