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Community Campus to host 24 students for annual Medical Academy of Science and Health Camp

Community campus hosts a MASH Camp

The Upstate University Hospital Community Campus will this week host two dozen high school students for a two-day, intensive educational camp to hopefully spark their interest in health care.

Twenty-four high school freshmen and sophomores will be on campus Feb. 21 and 22 for the immersive, two-day program called the Medical Academy of Science and Health Camp – better known as MASH Camp. Co-run by the Central New York Area Health Education Center, MASH Camp takes place each year at local hospitals and medical facilities; Upstate has hosted the program for more than 15 years.  

While at Upstate, students interact with nearly 20 departments and learn from medical professionals in a variety of areas and positions. Camp sessions include presentations and workshops from departments such as radiology, emergency medicine, respiratory therapy, nursing, forensic nursing, pathology, orthopedics, recreation therapy, labor and delivery, and more.

The students listen to presentations, tour facilities and participate in many hands-on activities including using chicken breasts for a suture simulation, operating an echocardiogram machine, conducting a pretend robotic surgery – complete with cooked spaghetti, gummy worms and water-filled balloons to simulate organs – growing bacteria in the lab and observing real organic samples to be used in pathology.

The students will also hear from public safety, infection control and will participate in a “Stop the Bleed” training, which is new to the program this year. Some students are already interested in future education or careers in the medical field, while others are exploring their options, said Kristin Bruce, MHA, MBA, FACHE, director of the Office of Volunteer Programs at Upstate. 

“It exposes these kids to not just what they see on TV,” Bruce said. “They are walking through the hallways – they’re a part of it. They get to smell it. They get to see it. They get to have the full experience.”

Upstate and CNYAHEC survey students before and after the camp to better understand what new things they learned. The program has proven to be very helpful for introducing students to fields and careers they may not have otherwise even been aware of.

“Usually they discover a new career,” said Claire Payne, program manager at CNYAHEC. “It gives them exposure to careers they didn’t know existed. Some students might be turned off by healthcare because they don’t like needles or blood but we’re showing them there are so many other careers out there – not just doctors and nurses. 

Hosted by Upstate’s Office of Volunteer Services, the program is in line with Upstate’s mission of community outreach and teaching. It’s also a critical pipeline to introduce young people to the medical field, which continues to grow and need more and more people each year, Payne said. CNYAHEC keeps track of its applicants and campers as they continue through school and hopefully pursue a career in health care, she said.

CNYAHEC is based in Cortland and covers a 14-county area. MASH students, however, can come from all over the state, Payne said. She’s had students come from out of state to and Bruce said one recent Upstate participant came from as far away as Rochester.

To learn more about CNYAHEC or to apply to future MASH camps, visit https://cnyahec.org/.

Caption: During the February school break each year, Upstate University Hospital and the Central New York Area Health Education Center team up to host the Medical Academy of Science and Health Camp to expose high school students to possible future careers in health care. During the two-day intensive camp students have many hands-on medical experiences like the one above.