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Camp teaches students about health care careers, emergency preparedness

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Twenty-six incoming ninth-graders from throughout Aroostook County spent the past week at The Aroostook Medical Center and Northern Maine Community College learning about various health care career fields that they might one day choose as their own professional path.

Survivor Aroostook is hosted annually by TAMC in partnership with NMCC to expose students to health care professions at an early age and help those who are interested decide what high school courses they’ll need to take to prepare for college.

Students toured a variety of TAMC’s departments such as the operating room, general surgery, pharmacy, radiology, cardiology, social work, dentistry and nursing and took part in hands-on activities such as CPR, first aid training and a critical care/emergency medical services exercise.

Students try their hands as paramedics during day three of TAMC’s weeklong Survivor Aroostook camp on Wednesday, June 27. Pictured from left to right are Emma Lamoreau, Jersie Valiante, Summer Dahlgreen, Kylie Bolstridge, Hilary Boucher (on stretcher), Madison Benn and Katelyn Lawlor. (Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald)

“We’re trying to show students the many positions that are within the health care industry, not just doctors and nurses,” said Linda Menard, continuing medical education and conferences center coordinator at TAMC and Survivor Aroostook leader. “We also see the camp as one of our workforce development programs to encourage students to consider careers available to them in the region.”

On Wednesday, June 27, the students met with TAMC’s emergency medical technicians to learn how to respond at the scene of an accident and safely transport victims into an awaiting ambulance.

After watching demonstrations from real-life paramedics, students put their skills to the test as they strapped their classmates to stretchers and treated “broken legs” with splints. They also spoke with paramedics and asked about what their jobs are like on a daily basis.

Even though many students had ideas of what health care fields they might want to pursue, they enjoyed exploring the hospital.

“I might go into nursing,” Rochelle Chasse, a student from Ashland District School, said. “But I also liked it when we toured the dentistry and surgical units.”

Students Alex Pulk (second from left) and Jersie Valiante help splint a “broken leg” for Summer Dahlgreen (far right) with help from TAMC paramedic Ryan Lavway during the Survivor Aroostook camp on June 27. (Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald)

Lucas Matheson, of Hodgdon High School, said that he is interested in possibly pursuing a career in radiology.

“I wanted to see what careers are out there besides being a doctor or nurse,” Matheson said, about why he decided to attend Survivor Aroostook.

Ever since TAMC began tracking the long-term results of Survivor Aroostook several years ago, they have found that 25 percent of students who attend ultimately pursue careers in health care, with the majority choosing emergency medical services. With the ever present job shortage predicted for the health care industry in Maine, hospital officials hope that the camp gives students greater insight into what it takes to succeed during everyday medical situations.

“They’re gaining self-confidence and the composure needed for high-stress situations as well as learning to accept their strengths and weaknesses,” Courtney Lovely, camp leader and TAMC manager of quality services, said. “Those are skills that students can take with them regardless of what career they choose.”

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