LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 5, 2009) – For many students the months of June and July mean fun in the sun and a time to take a break from school. However, for two groups of students, June and July provided a whole different experience. Forty-eight high school juniors and seniors from across Kentucky participated in the six-week Summer Enrichment Program or the two-week Health Researchers Youth Academy. Both camps were residential and sponsored by the University of Kentucky Area Health Education Center (AHEC).
In June, 22 students from 13 counties arrived at UK for the six-week residential Summer Enrichment Program.
"This camp targets rising juniors and is designed to give students an opportunity to experience college life and an understanding of the requirements needed to prepare for majoring in a health profession," said Carlos Marin, UK AHEC Health Careers Program Coordinator.
During the six-week camp students attended morning classes in chemistry, biology, anatomy and medical math as well as chemistry and biology labs. The classes were taught by graduate level students, health professions students and UK faculty. The afternoon sessions provided the students with an opportunity to meet with faculty and currently enrolled students from the six health colleges: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Health Sciences, Nursing and Public Health. Throughout the six-week camp, students participated in a lunch and learn with the deans from each of the six health colleges.
Participants in the Summer Enrichment Program were involved in a variety of hands-on activities, which included the preparation of pharmaceutical solutions, dissections and use of equipment in occupational and physical therapy. One of the most challenging activities was when students tried the equipment used to help surgery residents develop surgical skills in the Minimally Invasive Surgery Lab. The following morning, students observed a non-invasive surgery via telemedicine. Each Thursday students participated in clinical shadowing of health care professionals in settings from radiology to surgery.
In July, an additional 26 students representing 15 counties arrived at UK to take part in the two-week Health Researchers Youth Academy. Ten of the 26 were students who had attended the 2008 Summer Enrichment Program.
"The Health Researchers Youth Academy targets rising high school seniors and allows the participants to experience a different aspect of health care via research," said Marin.
The students attended physiology lectures/labs in the mornings. Along with the lectures and labs students were instructed on lab safety, literature review and clinical research ethics. The physiology segment was taught by a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.
During the afternoon sessions the students were presented with models of research currently being conducted at UK. The research models presented included brain trauma injury, spinal cord injury, cancer cell identification, asthma, obstetrics/gynecology, cardiothoracic, pharmacology, drug addiction and functional anatomy. Additional research activities included tours of the Biological Biomedical Sciences Research Building and the Clinical Research Development Operations Center (CR-DOC). Students also participated in activities at the UK Science Outreach Center.
Students for this camp were placed in teams of two and given the assignment of developing a poster presentation utilizing literature research. UK graduate students assisted participants in selecting a topic and provided direction on literature research, setting up a poster presentation and final presentation. The final poster presentations were displayed and discussed by the students at the closing ceremony for both of the residential camps. The ceremony was attended by friends and families of the students as well as staff and faculty from UK.
Participants attending the Summer Enrichment Program and the Health Researchers Youth Academy stayed in the same dorm facility at UK.
"While both camps sound like all work and no play, the students had the opportunity to interact and become friends," said Marin. "They were provided with a few evening social/mentoring events such as a trip to the mall, movies, laser tag, roller skating, and an ice cream/birthday party."
The Summer Enrichment Program and the Health Researchers Youth Academy are provided at no cost to the students. To apply for the camps, students must submit an application with requested documents such as transcripts and letters of recommendations. For information on the 2010 Summer Enrichment Program or the Health Researchers Youth Academy, contact Carlos Marin, UK AHEC Health Careers Program Coordinator, at (859) 323-8018 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.