Outreach Activities Expose Youth to Health Careers
Collaborations among School of Health Sciences departments have given rise to some very positive interactions with area youth, as the School of Health Sciences serves communities in many creative ways to promote health care occupations.
"That exposure and interaction is imperative for the school," says Brittany Schultz, health sciences academic advisor. “We have a desire to serve the community and we want to create interest,” she explained. “South Dakota deserves health care providers who genuinely care about their patients, and we can do that by setting a good example. We meet students where they are at and encourage them to see themselves in a health profession.”
Health sciences recruiter Michele Seaton-Bertsch coordinated several of the events so students could get the most out of their visits. Students rotated between sessions and walked through the gross anatomy lab, used med lab skills to test a simulated patient for diabetes, and did some fun activities with occupational therapy and physical therapy.
The School of Health Sciences departments are accustomed to collaborating with one another, something that is highlighted in every event the School of Health Sciences administers. “By collaborating among departments to set up experiences that give insight into health care professions, we are able to do some very hands-on sessions with them,” Schultz explained. “It’s important that our departments take care of each other and support each other, because that teamwork is what a career in health care requires.”
Events are held primarily on campus in the new School Health Sciences facilities, but occasionally are brought to the schools themselves. According to Schultz, it’s fulfilling to see students’ excitement as they explore career options.
“Students like these events because they are fun but still applicable to real-life experiences,” said Schultz.
USD Healthcare Care Summer Camp
Several School of Health Sciences programs participated in the 17th annual USD Healthcare Careers Summer Camp, including nursing, medical lab science and public health. Thirty-one (eight male and 23 female) high school students from South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Colorado attended. Participating students rotated through hands-on activities, including suture/ knot tying, ultrasound, splinting, physical exam skills, gowning and gloving, a patient-based learning case and a medical school question-and-answer session.
The week was also spent touring Lee Med research labs and gross anatomy lab, as well as Sanford Vermillion Medical Center, Southeast Technical College, the Parry Center for Clinical Skills & Simulation, and the South Dakota Urban Indian Health downtown area.
This year’s camp also piloted the first Mini Med School Camp, hosted by six current medical students from the Class of 2026: Aaron Fest, Tina Griesgraber, Katelyn Kenzy, Hannah Meyer, Collin Olevson and Callie Olson.
Visits with the nursing, physical therapy, health administration and med lab sciences departments provided insights into those disciplines, while a talk on traditional medicines by Damon Leader Charge, director of tribal outreach, and a talk on wellness by Dr. Craig Uthe, clinical professor of family medicine at the Sanford School of Medicine, provided other perspectives.
At the conclusion of the camp, each student participant received Stop The Bleed® and CPR certifications. Camp counselors were current USD health sciences students: Savannah Lukkes, Kennedy Bietz, Macey Boerhave and Joseph White Star.
The Departments of Nursing, Medical Laboratory Science, Public Health and Occupational Therapy participated in this week-long career exploration camp for incoming 7th and 8th grade students. It immersed campers in a week of “college life” designed to explore career paths through engaging activities and tours of area business and industry. By the end of this five-day residential camp, students had a better understanding of themselves, their personal career interests and how education connects to these professions.
South Dakota Governor’s Camp
Almost 90 campers entering 6th-9th grades attended this year’s South Dakota Governor’s camp, which included sessions by the following School of Health Sciences faculty.
Scrubs Life with Regan Luken and Kelli Ebbesen: Nursing students simulated the shift of a nurse where they drew cards, directing them to various nursing activities, such as medication administration.
FBI (Food Borne Illness) Investigation with Wynette Mockler: Health sciences students learned some basic knowledge regarding food-borne illness and prevention, doing a mock outbreak investigation to determine the source of the illness.
DNA Extraction with Kari Potter, Medical Lab Science: In this hands-on session, students learned some of the lab activities that medical laboratory scientists utilize to identify the culprit, whether it is the cause of disease, the father of a child or a suspect in a crime.
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