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MASH Camp to give students inside look at healthcare

July 19, 2018

If you see a bunch of really youthful individuals in scrubs walking around UHS Wilson Medical Center soon, you might think new doctors and nurses are looking younger and younger every year.

But they’re not healthcare professionals just yet – although that’s the career track many of them seek.  They’re MASH Campers, and they’ll be on our campus for two days of enlightening, hands-on learning about prospective occupations in the health and medical field.

This year’s camp will be held Tuesday, July 24, and Wednesday, July 25. 

“We’re back with MASH Camp and everyone is excited to welcome these high school students who have expressed an interest in the health field and are eager to see the inner workings of a medical center in action,” said Candi Contento, RN, nurse educator, Nursing Education Department, one of the principal organizers of UHS’ participation in the annual introduction-to-careers program.

The 20 students, who are entering ninth and 10th grades, will come from a number of area schools.  They will visit departments ranging from Respiratory Therapy to the Pharmacy, and from Labor & Delivery to Diagnostic Imaging.  And they won’t just observe – at each location they will get to use a piece of medical equipment, work with a clinical mannequin or have some other kind of hands-on learning experience.

At one group session they’ll find out all about “Bugs, Blood and Body Fluids,” while at another they’ll pay a visit to the Morgue.  When Operation Life Flight lands on the roof, they’ll have a chance to ask questions of the helicopter crew.

Along the way they will be treated to breakfasts, picnic lunches and, to cap off the program, an ice cream social.

One of the most impressive aspects of MASH Camp is the incredible dedication and teaching ability displayed by members of the UHS team who function as guides and presenters to the students.  This year more than 120 employees from across the UHS Wilson campus will serve in that capacity.

“Our colleagues are very kind and do a wonderful job of explaining their work to the students,” said Candi.  “They’re very well prepared and just take it and run with it.”

MASH stands for the Medical Academy of Science and Health.  The camps are operated by the Cortland-based Central New York Area Health Education Center, in cooperation with institutions around central New York. 

The camp experience has been shown to effectively plant seeds of interest and introduce many young persons to future healthcare careers.

"Campers learn about the educational requirements, skills, typical job duties and personal qualities necessary to succeed in the health field," CNYAHEC organizers report on their website.  "The students participate in interactive, hands-on workshops that highlight the skills, equipment, technology and resources used by health professionals."

MASH Camp has been held at UHS since 2003.

Principal organizers in addition to Candi are Sue Hogan, RN, nurse educator, on the clinical side, and Chris Samsel, director of Employment at UHS, and Karen Stump, employment assistant, representing Human Resources.

This year the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, next to UHS Wilson, has graciously offered its basement meeting room as the MASH Camp’s home base and assembly area over the two days