Mini-Medical Camp Provides Students with New Insight

“I learned that I must follow my dreams and never give up no matter what others say and even when it seems impossible.”

So writes a student attendee at the Summer Youth Mini-Medical Camp provided virtually by Swedish Hospital doctors and medical staff this past summer.  Thanks to funding from the Swedish Hospital Foundation and our generous donors, 160 students from neighborhood public high schools and under-resourced schools across Chicago learned about clinical medicine through interactive lectures and discussion sessions during this week-long event in August 2020. Dr. Denis Williams, an Orthopedic Surgeon and Chairman of Surgery at Swedish Hospital, developed the camp in collaboration with Jennifer Dixon, a Community Organizer, to provide students the opportunity to interact with medical professionals and become familiar with a range of jobs available in the medical field.

What drove Dr. Williams to apply for the SH Foundation grant and develop the Mini-Medical Camp was his desire to have students from all walks of life see a future for themselves in medicine. According to Dr. Williams,

“You can’t become what you can’t envision; many young students across the city are interested in medicine but may not have exposure or the critical guidance and the resources to learn more about the fields during their formative years. As is well-known, exposure to certain concepts and ideas at a young age is likely to positively impact decisions in the future and leave lasting encouragement.”

Medical staff were carefully selected to reflect the diversity of the student participants and included some staff members who ended up in their chosen field following non-traditional pathways.  All medical staff presenters volunteered their time to teach and included Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Nurses and Surgical Assistants. For many of the students, the experience left them with a new perspective. According to one student,

“I learned that the Swedish Hospital is very diverse because there were guest speakers that came from different countries and they never felt discouraged by not being able to reach their dream career solely because they weren’t born in the U.S.A and I feel like now you hear a lot about young people feeling discouraged to chase their dreams because of their background.”  

Even life-lessons were imparted to the students, one of whom reflected, “I learned that I might not get into medical school on my first try, and that’s okay. Even if I don’t get in, I should continue to work so I can achieve my goal.

The 2020 Youth Mini-Medical Camp was so successful for both student participants and medical staff alike that there are plans to hold a similar camp during the summer of 2021. For more information, please send all questions to: swedishminimedicalschool@gmail.com . To learn more about how you can help support similar programs, contact us at 773-293-5121 or email us at schfoundation@schosp.org.

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