The 12th annual Utah Center for Rural Health’s Health Career Exploration Camp was held on June 7-9 at Southern Utah University, where youth from Kanab, Lake Powell and Valley High Schools attended. They, along with 90 other high school students, explored the health care industry through three-days of hands-on experiences and learning opportunities.

Students attending were Abbey Daley, Lauren Carter, and Nate Hannig from Kanab High School; Cheyenne Cox from Valley High School; and Alisa Hartline from Lake Powell High School.

Participants were divided into six groups and rotated among 14 different workshops. Some of the workshops featured health career skills where participants learned to suture, take blood pressures, incubate and maintain an airway, provide first-aid, proper patient transfer techniques, how to properly scrub in for surgery, proper wound care techniques and more.

Students looked at blood smears, learned how diseases are spread, made their own teeth impressions, dissected sheep eyes and cow hearts, and learned about pharmacy by making their own chapstick. Participants also had a human anatomy lesson. They scrubbed into a mock operating room and had the opportunity to look at, discuss, and feel actual human organs.

Careers were featured at the camp included, Respiratory Therapy, Nursing, Nurse Practitioner, Medical Technologist, Physician, Veterinarian, Radiology, EMT, Pharmacist, and Dentist.

Students also participated in the SUU Challenge Course where they learned teamwork and leadership skills. Dr. Derrick Haslem, a medical oncologist for IHC in St. George, was the keynote speaker and shared with the students why he loves medicine and his thoughts on why health care makes a great career. A dance and dinner at a local park were also highlights of the camp.

Mini-workshops were provided to help prepare the students for future college life. The workshops included information on college admissions, financial aid, ACT preparation, the SUU College of Science, and student support services provided at SUU. Participants were housed at the Eccles Living Learning Center at SUU, and were able to experience what college life would be like, living and learning together while at Southern Utah University.

Because there is such a need for health career workers in rural Utah, the goal for this camp is simple. “This camp is specifically designed to give students from rural areas opportunities to learn about health care careers in a hands-on way not always available to them. Our hope is that by introducing students to health care from rural areas, they will ultimately choose to pursue a health care career and return to a rural area to work after their education is finished,” stated Carrie Torgersen, coordinator of the camp.

After graduating from high school, students interested in health careers have the opportunity enroll in the Center’s Rural Health Scholars Program. The SUU Rural Health Scholars Program helps students become successful applicants to medical, dental, pharmacy, PA and other graduate level health professions programs. Student applications are strengthened through a regimen of classes, seminars, community service, job shadowing, research and advisement.

Last academic year, 52 SUU students were accepted into graduate level health programs, and out of 25 students applying to medical schools, 25 were accepted! For information about Utah Center for Rural Health programs, contact Dennis Moser or Rita Osborn at 435-865-8520 or visit