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Nurse Camp 2019: The same, but different

Posted on Jul. 19, 2019 ( comments)

Reading through the 2019 MultiCare Nurse Camp application essays, themes emerge that reflect an interest in caring for others — and many of the challenges facing the South Sound community.

Five students shared how being children of undocumented immigrants inspired them to pursue careers in the medical field.

Another applicant shared her story of teen motherhood.

Yet another included a letter of recommendation that revealed school support that supplemented what was lacking at home — the applicant’s parents are addicted to drugs.

For 16 years, MultiCare has hosted a weeklong camp for high school students interested in nursing and allied health careers. It’s a highly competitive and detailed application process. One that requires attention to details and heart.

For the students lacking the support to pull together all the details is the heart of Nurse Camp: coordinator Nancy Thompkins, RN, BSN.

Looking through the lens of her own experience as a teen mom and high school dropout, Thompson took a new approach with her outreach efforts.

She went to high schools that didn’t have participants in years past, such as Franklin Pierce and Clover Park.

Thompkins gave students missing paperwork an extra nudge so they wouldn’t miss out on the opportunity of Nurse Camp.

She shared her story.

“I was able to tap into kids who didn’t feel worthy,” Thompkins says.

It shows when you scan the room at any given Nurse Camp activity. The group is diverse and represents the South Sound community in new ways.

In addition to tapping into students who may have felt Nurse Camp was out of reach, Thompkins also made sure the Nurse Camp class of 2019 represented the community MultiCare is a part of.

One Franklin Pierce senior, Ana (not her real name) is the daughter of undocumented immigrants. Her mother is from a small village in Mexico where the paths are limited. People grow up and either make money farming or chopping wood.

“My mom wanted to be a nurse but she couldn’t,” Ana says. “They didn’t have the opportunities I have now. Here in the U.S. you can be anything you want.”

Each student participates in two job shadows during Nurse Camp. Her first job shadow was in the post-anesthesia care unit. On day three of Nurse Camp, Ana said she was surprised by the variety of paths available in nursing.

“I didn’t know nursing was so diverse,” she says. “This is reassuring me what I want to do. My parents left everything they have to come here and give me a better future. I want to make the most of that.”

Editor’s note: The name of the Nurse Camp student profiled in this piece has been changed for privacy.

About The Author

Jen Rittenhouse Jen Rittenhouse
Jen Rittenhouse is the social media manager for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She writes stories that connect people with hospitals, health care and each other. You can reach her at [email protected].
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