Hands-on mini-camps create career possibilities

by admin3. September 2009 19:00

The students in the nursing lab studied the effects of disease using a mannequin that electronically simulates real medical conditions. They also took vital signs, bandaged injuries, practiced using a syringe and learned about infection control.


And they had a pizza party.


These weren’t the usual nursing students at Moraine Park Technical College. Seventeen members of the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) of Fond du Lac signed up for a health care mini-camp offered by Moraine Park and the BGC. Another mini-camp was offered in August at the West Bend campus, in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.


Participants practice giving "injections" at the Fond du Lac mini-camp.

The mini-camps were part of a bigger picture that is made possible by a three-year, $1.7 million Community Based Job Training (CBJT) grant that was awarded to Moraine Park earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Labor. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Economic Modeling Incorporated, more than 1,700 additional registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants will be needed from now through 2018 in southeastern Wisconsin, which includes Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Washington counties, for a 19 percent projected growth rate.


The CBJT grant will provide resources for Moraine Park and its partners in the new Regional Health Care Talent Development Partnership Project to engage in health-care training and capacity-building activities, with the goal of serving nearly 1,300 students. The project benefits workers who are unemployed, underemployed, incumbent or dislocated, as well as youth. In addition to Moraine Park and the Boys & Girls Clubs, partners include the Wisconsin Technical College System, Cedar Community, Marian University, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington (W-O-W) Workforce Development Board and the West Bend Joint School District.


“The CBJT grant includes several strategies, all focused on increasing the number of skilled health-care workers in the region,” said Kathy Van Eerden, Moraine Park dean of health sciences. “One strategy includes increasing the exposure of youth and adults to the continuum of education and health career ladders. The summer health career academy, or mini-camps, which we are offering through the Boys & Girls Clubs, are one way to accomplish that goal.” Van Eerden said the grant also provides funding for a health sciences afterschool tutor at each club starting this fall.


Kathleen Christensen, operations director for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, said, “Getting the youth in our community enthused about the health sciences field is something we look forward to doing through the CBJT grant.”


Stan Kocos, then chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Fond du Lac, agreed. “It is a well-known fact that as the baby-boomer generation ages, current shortages in the health-care workforce are becoming even more critical,” he said. “The CBJT grant is an excellent example of a coordinated effort to address this shortage by supporting young people in developing an interest and pursuing a career in the health-care field.”


In addition to the BGC activities, career academy planning is under way for high school students in the West Bend School District. Moraine Park is now offering a Nursing Assistant course at West Bend High School. Thanks to the grant, more individuals will be successfully prepared for rewarding careers in the health-care field, and the funds will also help the College renovate the Nursing facilities at the West Bend campus and add a high-tech clinical simulation lab.


Several of the 17 students from the Fond du Lac BGC who attended the mini-camp want to be nurses or doctors and help people, and numerous hands-on activities throughout the day kept the class engaged and intrigued.


Melanie Tousey, 12, of Fond du Lac, who was learning how to use a stethoscope, wants to be an RN. Alexis Jefferson, 12, also of Fond du Lac, wants to be a doctor. Other students, like Monica Flores, 11, of Rio and Caitlin Fellers, 12, and Malik Richardson, 11, of Fond du Lac were there because they were interested in how the many systems of the human body work. As he practiced wrapping ankles in bandages, Jered Doylen, 12, said he would like to help people.


The mini-camp finished up with a tour of Agnesian HealthCare in Fond du Lac.


“For some, learning the Heimlich maneuver, or how to remove a bee sting with a credit card, was the highlight,” said Barb Brown, the Moraine Park Nursing Assistant program instructor who led the mini-camps, “while for others it was interacting with the Sim Man. They could watch what happens when the heart stops, feel the pulses disappear, then hear the heartbeat restart after interventions.”


Said Christensen of the mini-camp held in West Bend, “Our hope is that this will inspire just enough enthusiasm for them to take the next steps and pursue a class or two that will help them succeed in a health sciences field of study.”


For more information about the Regional Health Care Talent Development Partnership Project, contact Kathy Van Eerden at 262-335-5757 or kvaneerden@morainepark.edu.