Exercise and Health

Students Explore Different Health Professions During UWF Summer Camp

Pensacola – A room of about 20 middle- and high-school students listened intently as an adult reported the results of a simulated bus crash. Then they divided into teams to solve the mystery of what caused the pretend accident.

The students playing this game were participating in a five-day summer camp called CRASH, which stands for “Careers Revolving Around Science and Health.” The camp is designed to introduce them to professions associated with the 12 health-related programs within the College of Health at the University of West Florida.

As participants did activities or listened to presentations by faculty from all 12 programs, they had a chance to develop a deep understanding of the role of numerous health-related professions.

Nursing student Gloria Malpica works with participants taking part in an exercise that was part of CRASH camp.
Nursing student Gloria Malpica works with participants taking part in an exercise that was part of CRASH camp.

“We wanted to design something that allows young people to see connections among the health disciplines in a condensed period of time,” said Dr. Ermalynn Kiehl, dean of the College of Health. “They might be interested in one particular discipline, and after their exposure to a wide variety of health-related topics, they may discover there are perhaps other careers they are interested in and could pursue. In the long run, the faculty in the different disciplines are not as focused on recruiting for their specific discipline as they are in helping young people discover where their interests are so they can choose a career path wisely.”

The hands-on structure of the camp followed the guidelines of high-impact learning, which is designed to engage students directly rather than have them learn from traditional lecture-style teaching.

“My favorite part so far was when we went to the nursing simulation lab and learned what it was like to actually play the role of a nurse,” said Natalie Gandy, 15, of Tate High School. “It was fun even though it was stressful.”

UWF nursing student Lei Guaren helps as Eriasia McClain, Lyndsey Peebles and Jillian Gullahorn perform a check on a high-tech medical mannequin during CRASH camp. 

In the simulation lab, nursing faculty, athletic training department faculty and UWF nursing students led campers through five rotations. They included several that featured high-tech medical mannequins. Everyone learned to use the SBAR method of communication. SBAR stands for “situation, background, assessment and recommendation.”

“When we were doing the hospital simulations, I liked that I had to think fast about what I was doing and figure out what I could do best,” said Maxwell Tyms, 12, of Brown Barge Middle School.

Besides playing the role of nurse, the students spent the rest of the week enacting numerous other health-related professions and simulating their duties while learning about the responsibilities of each position. Rotations, which were associated with all 12 programs in the College of Health, included psychologist, medical lab technician, exercise scientist and health-care administrators, among others.

“Two things have been rewarding for me,” said Dr. John Todorovich, director of exercise science and community health, who served as the students’ tour guide for every rotation throughout the camp. “The first is that the participants really bonded and worked together as a team. We can see that they are engaged and enthusiastic and creative. The second thing is that I am touched by how the faculty has embraced this whole CRASH experience. We have people talking about implications for teaching in the classrooms and even people planning for next year’s camp. It’s really exciting.”