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Students get hands-on nursing experience at day camp

June 20, 2018

KOKOMO, Ind. — Most people think of swimming, hiking, and crafts when they think of summer camp.

But at this particular camp, the agenda includes starting IV fluids, inserting nasal gastric tubes, and giving subcutaneous or intramuscular injections.

About 20 area high school students experienced the life of a health care professional, at Indiana University Kokomo’s inaugural Nurse for a Day camp.

For Northwestern High School freshman Caitlyn Whitenight, the free day camp confirmed her plans to be a nurse.

“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “This gave me a taste of it, so I will know something about it when I graduate from high school and I’m ready to go to nursing school.”

That was the goal of the day, according to Tammy Ledbetter, assistant professor of nursing, who planned the day camp. 

“We want to get students excited about becoming nurses, and let them see what the health care field is all about,” she said. “With an anticipated nursing shortage, it is critical that highly-educated people enter this profession. We want them to experience what it is like to be a nurse, and be motivated to choose this career.”

The day included learning about allied health careers, including radiography and nutrition, as well as a session practicing communication with Spanish-speaking patients. 

Whitenight and her classmate Kerizma Lewis agreed their favorite part of the day was learning and practicing patient care in the School of Nursing’s simulation lab. The lab, which includes four hospital rooms with virtual patients, provides a chance to practice hands-on in a safe, supervised environment.

In one of the rooms, Ledbetter led five young women through the steps of starting an intravenous line, to give the patient fluids, then each one tried it herself, attaching the fluid bag to the tubing, squeezing the drip chamber to get the flow started, and inserting and securing it in the patient’s hand.

She also shared how little things that a nurse does make a difference — like getting a patient up and moving after surgery to avoid blood clots, or giving a patient ice chips before inserting a nasogastric tube, to help it go down more comfortably.

“Nursing is not only knowledge, it’s also doing the little things that make a big difference,” she said.

In another room, students practiced drawing up and injecting insulin, including the important steps of double checking the dose against the medical records, and disposing of the needle in a sharps container, to avoid sticking themselves or someone else with it after it has been used.

While Kate Leonhard, from Wapahani High School, wants to be a doctor rather than a nurse, she found the experience valuable.

“It gives you an idea of what it’s like to work in the medical field,” she said. “Now I know how hard it is to be a nurse.”

Lewis appreciated the chance to learn some real techniques that nurses use in their daily work, and to try them out.

“I’m a hands-on learner, so getting to actually try it was really cool,” she said. “It’s better than learning by watching someone else do it. I think it will be harder to do these things on a live patient, but now I have the general idea of how to do it.” 

The School of Nursing’s second session of Nurse for a Day is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 23, and there are openings available. For more information go to IU Kokomo camps or call 765-271-2822.

The Nurse for a Day camp is funded with a grant from the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 06/20/2018