They prepared a mock victim for transport by helicopter. They toured the human body at a cadaver lab. And they practiced diagnosing patients in state-of-the-art nursing simulation rooms where mannequins blink, talk and, if something goes wrong, lose color in their toes.

It’s safe to say this was no typical week of summer.

At the inaugural Health Care Explorer Camp held earlier this month in New Jersey, 10 Explorers ages 14 to 18 got a hands-on introduction to the fast-paced, challenging field of medicine.

Like all Explorers, they didn’t just read about the career that interests them. They actually experienced it.

Exploring is the BSA’s career exploration program for young men and young women. It’s built on the concept that you learn best by actually doing things. Explorers discover their future in one of 12 career fields, ranging from arts and humanities to social services.

The Explorers participate in a wilderness first aid course.

Learning from the best

The health care Explorers didn’t have to look far for role models. At every stop, they met professionals who are working every day to save lives, cure ailments and advance the field of medicine.

Some of the highlights:

  • Meeting EMTs from Monmouth Ocean County Hospital Service Corporation who demonstrated a helicopter rescue.
  • Visiting the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School cadaver lab in Piscataway, N.J., where people have chosen to donate their bodies to science and learning. There they chatted with Dr. George Mulheron, who gave a tour of the human body with a hands-on discussion of the brain, heart, lungs and view of the workings of the knee joint.
  • Touring the Rutgers School of Nursing Simulation Laboratory, in New Brunswick, N.J., with Professor Tita Viray. At this state-of-the-art simulation lab, they met “Checo,” a young mannequin boy, and listened to his lungs and took his pulse. They also met “Jovanni,” a mannequin burn victim who spoke, had simulated burns on his legs, became cyanotic (blue color in toes to simulate lack of oxygen) and blinked his eyes.
  • Hearing from lunchtime guest speakers, including Jerry Ceres, who discussed electronic medical records; Gerry Case, a retired physician assistant; and Linda Hassler, who spoke about the various specialties in nursing. Tim Hogan, Regional Vice President for Bayshore and Riverview Medical Centers and president of the BSA’s Monmouth Council, gave the graduation address on various careers in health care.
  • Completing the 16-hour Wilderness First Aid certification course, including in-pool water rescues and CPR certification classes.
The Explorers practice water rescues in the pool.

Enjoying some downtime

Even with all that hands-on learning they couldn’t get anywhere else, the Explorers still had time (and energy) for even more fun.

They saw a movie, went bowling and perfected their swing at the driving range. They spent each night at Quail Hill Scout Reservation in Manalapan, N.J.

“I enjoyed learning about the different career opportunities available,” says Chelsea Chen, a 17-year-old Explorer.

Another of the Explorers, 17-year-old Erin Wong, thanked volunteers like Linda Hassler and BSA professionals like district executive Priscilla Borges for coordinating the week.

“Thank you for making it such a fun and immersive experience,” Erin says.

One of the Explorers experiences the effects of aging by wearing glasses that affect her vision and trying to organize colored dots.

What’s next?

The council plans to run the event again in 2019, so stay tuned to the council’s website.

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