Middle Schoolers Explore Nursing at Summer Camp

Posted: July 24, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Colleen Kearney Rich

Eric Kelly has always known he wanted to be “some sort of doctor.” Now he is pretty sure he wants to be a radiologist. Last week, the eighth grader was the toast of Nursing Exploration Summer Camp when he was the first and just about only camper to successfully insert an IV – virtually, that is.

Campers were on the Fairfax Campus working in the Toups Clinical Simulation Laboratories as part of their weeklong experience. This is the fifth year that Inova Health System has offered the camp in partnership with George Mason’s College of Health and Human Services for students in grades six, seven and eight.

Kelly and the other campers practiced inserting IVs using a computer interface and an onscreen arm. They also donned latex gloves and learned to dress wounds on one of the lab’s state-of-the-art SimMen, computer-controlled patient simulators.

nursing camp
Mason nursing major Maritess Baldon shows campers Sarah Palmer and Eric Kelly how the SimMan works.
Photo by Colleen Rich

The camp provides a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a nurse and takes the students on tours of several Inova units. The most popular stops for campers include Inova’s medical rescue helicopter and the neonatal intensive care unit.

“All the babies there were less than a pound,” says Meghan Anand, an eighth grader at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. “They were so cute.”

Kelly, who attends the Fredericksburg Christian School, was looking forward to the surgeries. Campers get to observe two surgeries during the week, one a “same day surgery” after which the patient can usually go home, the other open heart surgery in Inova’s nationally recognized cardiac facility.

“They do great,” says Hillary Bebko, one of the camp supervisors, of the open heart procedure viewing. “Everything is draped so they aren’t seeing anything more than they would on TV.”

Bebko has been involved with the camp since its inception and helped develop the camp curriculum so that it ties into the seventh-grade science curriculum. “People always ask me if I’m a nurse,” she says. “I’m not. The Inova nurses are here to provide the technical expertise.”

Bebko provides a different kind of expertise – an in-depth knowledge and 28 years of experience teaching middle school students. When not wearing scrubs as part of the Nursing Exploration Camp, Bebko teaches French and Spanish at Frost Intermediate School in Fairfax.

Bebko says the Mason part of the camp is important because the campers get to do hands-on activities. It also gives them a chance to find out what kind of educational preparation is required for a career in health care.

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