Nurse Camp student-turned-nurse reflects on her experience at camp
By Cheryl Reid-Simons
Sarah Cobb, RN, remembers the feelings she had the first time she worked in an operating room, but not a lot of specifics.
“We dissected something or sutured kidneys,” says Cobb, a nurse who works in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. “I remember thinking it was the coolest thing.”
If that seems a little cavalier, it’s not. The “patients” weren’t actual patients. They were animal cadavers. And Cobb wasn’t yet a nurse. She was a participant in MultiCare’s Nurse Camp in 2009.
Nurse Camp is an intensive five-day program that gives high school students the chance to work alongside professionals at MultiCare hospitals. The camp is free, but there is a rigorous application process. About 100 students are accepted each year.
“I remember getting the huge envelope after I applied. I was pretty excited,” Cobb says. “It was kind of like a few years later when I was applying for college and getting acceptance packets.”
Cobb went to Nurse Camp to confirm her career goals.
“I’d always had a pretty strong interest in nursing and medicine in general,” Cobb says. “Nurse camp really reinforced my desire to work in medicine. It exposed me to a lot of cool opportunities that made me want to keep coming back.”
In addition to hands-on practice, participants are assigned to job-shadow different types of medical professionals.
“I remember getting job shadows I didn’t necessarily want,” she says, laughing. “But it exposes you to areas you didn’t think you’d ever be interested in.”
Her favorite job shadow was in the coronary care unit. A few years later, she became a technician in the same unit while she finished her nursing degree at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. She found herself working alongside some of the same people she’d first met at Nurse Camp.
Once she graduated, Cobb went to work as an ICU nurse at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, where she immediately loved working with kids.
“My first day in peds I worked with a little boy who’d had surgery and he didn’t want to get up and walk,” she recalls. “So they put a gown on him backwards and said it was a cape and he walked up and down the hall saying ‘I can do it! I can do it!’”
Cobb says the ICU is an especially fulfilling job.
“It’s very family-oriented,” she says of her care. “I like having just one or two patients and giving them and their families a lot of time.”
Cobb also enjoys the intellectual demands of ICU nursing.
“There’s a lot of decision making and critical thinking that lies on our shoulders,” she says.
It’s a big leap from her days in Nurse Camp.
“I remember when I was in those overly large scrubs walking around campus feeling like I was the coolest person in the world,” Cobb says.
For students interested in a medical career, Nurse Camp is an extraordinary opportunity, she says. But it’s not all one-sided. She says MultiCare as an employer and the patients they serve benefit as well.
“Nurse Camp provides new employees that are passionate about what they want to do,” she says. “It takes students who have an interest in medicine and fosters it.”