VACAVILLE — Valerie Kimbrough’s career choice was reaffirmed Wednesday.
The 2014 Armijo High School graduate is one of 32 teens participating in the 10th annual Nurse Camp hosted by The NorthBay Healthcare Nursing Academy.
Kimbrough has wanted to be a nurse since she was young.
“My aunt was a nurse,” she said. “I would see her dressed in her uniform. I wanted to be like her.”
Participating in the four-day camp, which included two days at VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville and two at NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield, offered her the opportunity to get a glimpse into her future.
She’ll attend Diablo Valley Community College in the fall.
Nurse Camp is designed to give teens a first-hand look at the profession. It’s taught by nurses from different departments.
“Students come expecting a classroom with lectures about nursing,” said Donne Dabeck, a registered nurse and manager of nurse recruitment and retention, in a press release. “Instead they get a hands-on experience learning everything from taking blood pressure and giving shots (to oranges) to using surgical tools ‘delivering’ a sim(ulation) lab baby.”
Kimbrough and fellow campers Jasmine Wong, a junior at Rodriguez High School; Camille Flores, an Armijo senior; and Briana Torres, an Armijo junior, felt they would be best suited working in labor and delivery.
Madison Webber, a Vacaville High School senior, thought the emergency room or trauma center was her best fit.
“I love the fast pace,” she said.
As the campers began their day Wednesday, they posed for a group picture before getting training on making casts, using restraints and a trauma exercise, complete with an anxious mother and “patient” missing one leg.
They donned gowns and gloves as a young man was wheeled in on a gurney, covered by a “blood”-stained sheet.
Christine Lowe, an emergency room nurse, summed up the situation.
“He was riding his BMX bike and crashed,” she said. “Let’s get him on a monitor. Time is life. There’s a huge trauma going on here.”
“What are his vitals?” asked nurse Julie Bickham. “Did anyone call the lab for blood?”
Within a minute, the organized chaos subsided and the nurses reviewed what had just happened. At the same time, they emphasized the importance of teamwork.
The trauma exercise reinforced Flores’ and Torres’ decision that it wasn’t the area where they wanted to work, they said.
Maureen Allain, a registered nurse, started Nurse Camp to introduce teens to the profession. At the time, there was a shortage of nurses, she said. School visits were first. Then the nurses decided it would be fun to bring the teens to the hospital, she said.
Allain last year attended the college graduation of one of her first campers.
“It’s a way to show them nurses do make a difference,” she said. “I’ve been a nurse 32 years. I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Nurses Camp has a mascot, a small stuffed bear wearing a white dress and white hat bearing a red cross. It’s named Nightingale, after nurse Florence Nightingale.
Another nurse who started Nurse Camp with Allain looked to the bear for comfort when she was in college, earning her degree.
“It got her through the tough times,” Allain said.