NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - This week, the potential future of our region's health care are attending a three-day "health career" camp in Nacogdoches.
Forty-five high school students will learn about medicine thanks to the Area Health Education Center East-Pineywoods.
Several students will focus on rural health care. It's reassuring when a teenager knows what profession to pursue, especially when it deals with health care.
"I want to go into the medical field as a surgeon," said Lauren Lathan, a junior at Nacogdoches High School.
"I'm real interested in family medicine," said Angel Campos, a Center High School sophomore.
"I want to become a neo-natal nurse," said Madison Agnew, a Center High School sophomore.
"I'm going to be a medical assistant is the field I'm interested in," said Taylor Pieper, a Center High School sophomore.
The AHEC Health Careers Camp is a smart beginning to reaching those goals. The shadowing of health professionals at Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital is part of a three-day immersion into the health care industry. And it's all for a good reason.
"The demand for health care professionals is certainly there," said Mark Scott, the Healthcare Center East-Pineywoods director said. We in our East Texas area have a majority of health professional shortage areas."
These students are predominantly from Shelby County, where health care has had its ups and downs over the last year. AHEC's guidance opens the doors to all sorts of possibilities that someday may benefit all East Texans health care needs.
"We want them to go off to college, but we want them to come back to the rural areas and provide services," said Mavis Yarbrough, the health careers coordinator for AHEC East-Pinewyoods.
The positive experience at this impressionable age goes a long way.
Angel spoke to a physician assistant, a job he may hold one day.
"This is emergency medicine, right?" Angel asked.
"Correct," the physician assistant replied.
"You could switch specialties overnight if you want?" Angel asked.
"Right, that is absolutely true," the PA said.
Madison and Taylor watched the care of newborns.
"Oh my gosh," one of them said with a grin.
And while not a neo-natal unit, Madison learned delivery nurses everywhere have to be prepared for emergencies.
"We do NICU," said Elizabeth Daniel, an RN for the Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital's delivery wing.
"It's different from what I expected because I'm not in emergency medicine, but I'm enjoying it," Madison said. "I think it's very neat."
And Lauren is across the sterile red line of the surgery wing and is totally in her element.
"I'm about to go into surgery, and so it's going to be fun," Lauren said.
This year's health careers camp was the largest ever offered by AHEC. Next year's goal is to enroll at least 60 high school students.