ELIZABETH — As one of the most sought-after camp experiences for high school students in Union County and elsewhere, Nursing Camp at Trinitas Regional Medical Center, now in its 10th year, has again received rave reviews. A total of 72 teens participated throughout the summer, getting a first hand view of the daily lives of nursing and other healthcare professionals at Trinitas.
Following orientation and introduction to medical terminology, the students hear presentations from a wide array of clinical departments and functions in the organization. The week-long program offers “shadowing” opportunities for campers who give the program high marks for helping them see, in a realistic light, a career they may want to pursue.
Lisa Liss, director of volunteer services, who conceived of the Nursing Camp program in 2004 to introduce local high school students to the nursing field, reports that the program has expanded to include teens from beyond Union County. She developed the program in concert with Patricia Haydu, RN, Coordinator of Health Occupations in the Thomas Edison Career and Technical Academy of Elizabeth High School, who recently retired from that position after 35 years with the school system. Pat, together with Eileen Mulroy, RN, MSN, Health Occupations Instructor at the Thomas Edison Career and Technical Academy, serve as facilitators in the program, helping the campers connect effectively with Trinitas staff members and ensuring that they have a positive camp experience.
Liss derives great satisfaction from knowing that the program has helped students make decisions on their careers. “For some, this week at Trinitas crystallizes their thinking about the healthcare field. It’s a revealing week that can make all the difference in the world to young people exploring what they might want to do with their lives.”
For many, their week at Nursing Camp inspires them to pursue nursing careers or other healthcare professions, as evidenced by comments like, “Nurse Camp impacted my future. It allowed me to see things that I’d never been able to see before” and “My best experience was visiting the Lab. I’ve been interested in pursuing a career in Pathology and it made me realize it was definitely what I wanted to do as a future career.”
Taryn Wilson Condron, RN in the Emergency Department, and 2006 alumna of the Trinitas Nursing Camp, recalls that viewing the television medical drama ER was part of the reason why she became interested in nursing. However, the strongest influence came from her aunt, Ginny Wilson, nurse manager of two patient care units who has been with Trinitas for 15 years. Wilson Condron completed her senior year in high school and then went on major in nursing at Pennsylvania’s Moravian College. She describes her summer at Nursing Camp as “a fun, learning experience. I learned that day-to-day nursing is a whole lot different from what you see on television. I got to see different aspects of the hospital. Campers get to see what jobs are out there for them.”
This year’s participants agreed wholeheartedly. Julianne Smolyn expressed her thanks to Liss: “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend the Nursing Camp at Trinitas. It was a very rewarding experience, and I enjoyed it very much.”
Emily Yang, another participant, wrote, “Thank you for incorporating me into the Trinitas family through Nursing Camp and Medical Mentors. I’m truly grateful for the experiences that I’ve had and the opportunities that have opened up to me, all because of what I’ve learned here. Thank you so much!”
Through her camp experience, Wilson Condron learned about interacting with patients, working with technology needed for patient care in the Emergency Department, and getting a first-hand look at the business of nursing every day. A piece of advice she gives to all aspiring nurses and healthcare professionals who are interested in volunteering or career programs prior to college: “Get ready for hard work and don’t give up.”
Camps and internship programs are essential for students who seek a career that is both challenging and enriching. According to Wilson Condron, her Nursing Camp experience was a validation of her early interest in nursing: “I always wanted to become a nurse. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone considering a career in nursing. It helped me finalize my decision.”
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