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'Speed dating’ highlight of fourth University of Washington nurse camp

Monday September 10, 2012
Campers learn how smoking and illicit drug use can damage internal organs from Colleen Williams, RN, the Organ Lady.
Campers learn how smoking and illicit drug use can damage internal organs from Colleen Williams, RN, the Organ Lady.
(Photos by Rita Ismail)
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Juan Cervantes, left, and Lexi Joseph, center, calculate intravenous drip rates with Ann Lin, RN, a University of Washington BSN alum.
Time spent professional "speed dating" proved invaluable to West Coast high schoolers wanting to know more about careers in nursing. The process went accordingly: Sit down, spend seven minutes peppering a nurse with questions, move on to the next nurse and repeat. When done, they’d met a correctional nurse, labor-and-delivery nurse, nurse midwife, ICU nurse and nurse practitioner. The nurse "speed dating" was just one perk of the fourth annual nurse camp in late June at the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle.

"Meeting the nurses during speed date was very interesting and inspiring," one participant wrote on a student evaluation. Another student called it "the best part of the camp."

UWSON nurse camp organizers provided a wide variety of nurses for students to "date" so they could explore options. "It’s not all [about] working in a clinic," said Kimberly Chu, RN, MN, who led the camp.

Following speed dating, students could opt to eat lunch with one of the nurses to learn more about his or her career and specialty. The annual program is open to minority and low-income students.

Of 123 sophomore and junior applicants, 26 were selected to participate in the free, weeklong camp based on student transcripts, "Why I Want to Be a Nurse" essays and letters of recommendation.


Maggie Bailey performs an intubation.
This year’s camp activities covered first aid, CPR, HIPAA, hand washing, infection control and technology in healthcare. Colleen McElroy-Williams, RN, a UWSON alumna and MN graduate student, gave campers an inside look at human organs. But the highlight of the event was student shadowing, Chu said. "We partner with the University of Washington Medical Center, and students can shadow a nurse for two hours on a couple of days," she said.

On the final day of camp, attendees learned about financial aid and how to apply to college, led by Carolyn Chow, UWSON director of admissions and multicultural affairs.

"It’s inspiring that everyone at the school has come together to support this effort and to help make this happen for the future of nursing," Chow said in a news release.

Every year, nurse camp improves and expands as organizers and nurse volunteers step up to plan activities to spark an interest in nursing. The camp targets diverse, underrepresented populations in hopes of boosting the number of minorities in nursing’s future.

"This is still a predominantly white profession," said Chu, a member of DAwG, the UWSON diversity awareness group that started nurse camp. "We want to increase the numbers of ethnic minorities [in nursing] and help bridge the gap between provider and patient. A lot of times, there are health disparities that some people may not understand, especially with a language barrier."

Although UWSON has yet to institute a scholarship on behalf of a nurse camp attendee, that process may be in the works. "We’re hoping in the future that we’ll be able to get sustainable funding," Chu said.

For information, visit www.Nursing.UW.edu/Nurse-Camp. For a photo gallery, visit www.Nurse.com/Gallery/UWSONcamp.


Stefanie Dell’Aringa is a copy editor. Send letters to editorWest@nurse.com or post a comment below.