FOREST — Nicolette O’Brien was “vibrating” with excitement when she found out she got into CampMed.
The program, hosted by The University of Toledo Health Science Campus, will welcome Nicolette and other rising high school freshmen on Thursday and Friday to see what medical school is like.
“She was so excited,” said Nicolette’s mother, Brandie Brandenburg. “She’s dead set on [being in the medical field] and I just want her to be able to go and be hands on with it.”
That’s what the program offers. Students get the opportunity to participate in “hands-on” lessons, such as making wrist casts, suturing wounds, taking temperatures and more, according to a release from the university.
About 38 students are attending the program, and many are from local areas in Allen, Hardin, Mercer, Putnam and Van Wert counties. The program recruits from 19 counties in Northwest Ohio.
The program is intended to introduce future doctors to what it’s like to be in the medical field, and enhance access to health care in Northwest Ohio through increasing the amount of health providers in the area.
“It’s incredibly important in Northwest Ohio that we grow our own medical professionals,” said Courtney Combs, executive director of the Lima Area Health Education Center, a program associated with The University of Toledo. “Sometimes in bigger cities you’re not going to find someone who wants to live here and work here because they haven’t experienced it, they don’t know how great it can be.”
Students from the area are more likely to want to come back to the area after medical school, which the 18-year program has allowed for in Lima, Combs said.
The program is competitive, free to students and aimed at youth who have expressed an interest in becoming a physician and are first generation college students, said Kathy Vasquez, director of the UT and Ohio Area Health Education Center programs.
“We are focused on rural and underserved communities as well as minority groups that might not get this opportunity without CampMed,” Vasquez said, in a statement.
Nicolette, 13, is from Forest and attends Hardin Northern High School. She heard of the program from one of her friends and printed and filled out the application all on her own.
“I was kind of interested in CampMed to get a better idea of what I want to do when I grow up,” Nicolette said.
She wants to go into the military and do something in the medical field within the Navy. But, most of all, she wants to help people.
Miriam Lee, 14, of Alger, is also attending CampMed this year, she’s going to be a freshman at Upper Scioto Valley High School in Hardin County.
“I want to be a nurse when I grow up,” Miriam said. “[I’m excited about] messing with all the tendons and the brain” at CampMed.
She’s taking college courses starting in the fall in high school and said she decided she wanted to be a nurse in fifth grade.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” said her mom, Melissa Lee. “I’m hoping it’ll kind of help her decide if she wants to be a nurse practitioner or a hands-on doctor.”
The program is aimed at incoming freshmen because it’s important that youth who want to become doctors prepare in high school, and take the right courses, Vasquez said.
“Going into ninth grade, it is important for these kids to take advantage of every science and math class that is available so they can get into a college program that would make it possible to go to medical school,” Vasquez said in a statement.
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