Five Local Hospitals Hosted 41 Students for Summer MASH Camp

FDRHPO’s Medical Academy of Sciences and Health (MASH) Camp returned to pre-COVID hands-on experiences for North Country students.

MASH Camp came back with a splash this summer. For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was again able to physically place students in job shadowing, hands-on experiences in local hospitals. A total of 41 students from across the region recently participated in this much-anticipated program.

“We are grateful to our regional hospitals for supporting our efforts to resume MASH Camp in-person this summer, despite the added challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” explains Pat Fontana, FDRHPO’s Director of Population Health. “MASH Camp is one of our most popular pipeline programs and continues to be a valuable recruitment and engagement tool for youth interested in the healthcare field.”

MASH (Medical Academy of Science and Health) Camp is a unique opportunity for students in grades 8-12 to experience and explore the healthcare industry in an interactive way. By participating in hands-on activities that highlight various career opportunities, students learn about the educational requirements, skills, typical job duties and personal qualities of specific healthcare professions. FDRHPO offered a modified MASH Camp during the pandemic, which included online presentations by regional health professionals about their jobs and what it took to get there.

“While we were able to offer a virtual version of MASH Camp during the pandemic, nothing compares to experiencing healthcare careers in-person,” stated Beth Solar, FDRHPO Workforce Outreach Manager. “We were excited that the program could return with hands-on experiences this summer, but nobody was more excited than the students, who truly embraced this unique opportunity to decide on a career in healthcare and which one suits them best.”

Raygan Munson was one of the students who just completed MASH Camp this summer at Carthage Area Hospital. She is entering her senior year at Thousand Islands Central School and, after her experience in MASH Camp, plans to pursue a career as an Obstetrics/Ultrasound Technologist.  “I met a lot of great people who were very understanding and helpful,” commented Miss Munson. “I loved being taught about things I didn’t even know about. I would definitely do MASH Camp again!”

Partner hospitals this year included Carthage Area Hospital, Gouverneur Hospital, Lewis County General Hospital, River Hospital, and Samaritan Medical Center.

As an example of the types of hands-on experiences offered to students during MASH Camp, Lewis County General Hospital partnered with Lewis County Search and Rescue to conduct a mock mass casualty incident, which portrayed a gas leak/explosion at a movie theater. “Patients” in this exercise included younger students and family members of staff who volunteered for certain roles, including to be injured as a result of the incident. The patients wore moulage (artificial blood) and role-played to depict a variety of injuries at different levels of severity. This exercise was designed to demonstrate to MASH Camp students the triage process, patient priority levels, and how this type of situation is handled by EMS and other medical professionals.

“We definitely could not make MASH Camp possible without our hospital partners, guidance counselors, parents, and students,” concludes Mrs. Solar. “We are truly appreciative of the collaboration and commitment to helping these students experience healthcare careers, with the ultimate hope that they remain in Northern New York to fill critical roles within our healthcare system. All of us are looking forward to Winter MASH Camp during February break.”

In addition to local hospitals, FDRHPO partners with the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) for funding to make MASH Camp possible. For more information about the MASH Camp experience, follow this link, email workforce@fdrhpo.org or call 315-755-2020 ext. 25.