Finding consensus on how to properly address the ongoing physician shortage has proven elusive. Lots of different people have lots of suggestions. As the medical industry continues to search for that consensus, it is interesting to look around and see some creative ways certain organizations are attempting to attract young people to medical careers.
A case in point are the annual medical camps conducted by Fauquier Health in Fauquier County, Virginia. The medical system offers numerous Level I and Level II camps every summer. The camps are intended to expose high school students to some of the more in-depth details of medical careers, particularly emergency medicine.
Surprises in 2019
Fauquier Health ran only two Level II camps this past summer. Both were held in July, and both were geared toward students who had graduated from a 2018 Level I camp. The campers completed a number of different modules covering everything from advanced suturing to wound care and sports medicine. They learned about job shadowing as well.
The highlight of the camp was an impromptu visit from an organization known as Aircare. Aircare operates emergency aircraft used when critical patients need to be airlifted to a nearby hospital as quickly as possible. Members of the organization talked to students about what an Aircare career would involve. They talked about the types of patients they normally treat and the skill sets necessary to do so.
Fauquier County Emergency Medical Services were also on hand to talk about things like tactical emergency casualty care. Students learned about how EMS personnel respond to certain types of emergencies along with the tools and procedures for providing critical care.
Real World Exposure
Opportunities like Fauquier Health’s medical camps give those interested in emergency medicine opportunity to learn from professionals currently on the job. And although the students are not actually witnessing real-life emergencies as they unfold, the camps do provide the closest thing to real world exposure as possible, without actually putting them in emergency situations.
It is this real-world exposure that separates those casually thinking about emergency medicine jobs from those who will eventually go on to pursue them. As such, events like medical camps can help steer kids into emergency medicine in a very powerful and practical way.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of events like medical camps is that they combat stereotypes. In other words, your typical high school student probably thinks of the medical profession only in terms of what he or she has experienced. That means seeing the family practitioner for an annual physical and perhaps hearing stories of the oncologist or gastroenterologist treating their grandparents.
Very few high school students have any real-life experience with emergency medicine. They know nothing about locum tenens emergency medicine. Their knowledge of EMS services and ER procedures is limited to what they have seen on TV.
Put them in a setting that affords them the opportunity to interact with working professionals and you open a whole new world of opportunities. Medical camps and similar events suddenly make emergency medicine real. Students interact with real people who are saving lives every day. They get to hear the stories. They get to see the equipment and participate in demonstrations.
Student athletes are often inspired by professional athletes to seek their own careers as pros. Aspiring scientists are motivated by being exposed to the work of accomplished scientists still working in the field. Perhaps more students could be inspired to pursue emergency medicine careers if they were exposed to career professionals willing to share their own experiences.