Camp introduces medical jobs to island youth

LIHUE — Levi Nakaahiki was impressed with the cast his partner Kris Ragudo put on his arm on Saturday morning at Kauai High School’s Teen Health Camp.

“It feels like I’m wearing body armor,” Nakaahiki said.

The two boys, both eighth-graders at Waimea Canyon Middle School, were at the health camp’s casting workshop, learning how to cast a broken bone from Daniel Miyamoto and Sailesh Tummala, both first-year medical students at John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Meanwhile, at the health camp’s suture workshop, Anna Broyles, a junior, finished stitching up a gash in the arm of a mannequin.

“I would like to be a nurse practitioner, so coming to this workshop helps me see what it’s all about,” Broyles said.

Getting a feel for careers in health was the No. 1 goal of the Saturday Teen Health Camp, brought to Kauai by the Na Lei Wili Area Health Education Center.

“This is for students who intend to have a career in health or want to explore,” said Fran Becker, the Na Lei Wili AHEC director.

“It’s so they can feel out what the medical students are doing.”

Around 40 middle and high school students from all over the island attended the Teen Health Camp, which was an all-day event.

Workshops on nutrition, clinical skills, and infectious diseases were on the agenda along with the casting and suture stations.

“They’re getting to learn about things like Zika and healthy eating, and then at the clinical skills station they get to be the doctor, so there’s role playing,” Broyles said.

First- and second-year medical students from Honolulu’s John A. Burns School of Medicine hosted the workshops as part of a community health course required in their curriculum.

“There’s many different options for us to tap into an aspect about medicine that we’re passionate about,” said Erika Noel, second-year medical student.

Working with middle and high school students is close to Noel’s heart because, as a former teacher, she wants to encourage kids of that age to make positive choices in their lives.

“These workshops are really fun to do, because we get to give these guys real tools that we work with,” Noel said. “Like at the suture station, they’re working with real needles and they get to learn safety as well.”

Most of the students who attended the event already had inclinations to go into a career in health.

La‘akea Alaibilla, 12, wants to become a veterinarian, and Kyrie Linoz, 12, wants to deliver babies.

And giving Kauai’s kids whatever tools they need to accomplish their dreams is the mission, according to Teri Freitag, lead administrator for Waimea School’s Health Options for Teens (HOT) and Career and Technical Education program’s Health Career Pathway.

“These kinds of things help expose students to as much as we can from off-island,” Freitag said.

“I’ve got students interning at the hospital and the eye care center — the next step is to see what med school is like.”

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