Nearly 500 students have attended summer camps at the university with funding from the PA Department of Labor & Industry and the Hamot Health Foundation.


Our featured Innovation is Mercyhurst University's action packed one-week summer camps, spearheaded by

Dr. Linda Rhodes, that raise minority youth’s career expectations in health professions offering them a sense of

purpose and direction. They learn positive values of caring, integrity, and responsibility as part

of the values they will practice as a healthcare team member. Campers report having a more

positive view of their future and enjoy feeling “important” wearing scrubs and acting like a professional.

Healthcare employers enthusiastically support the program as it meets their need to create and hire

a more culturally diverse workforce that better represents the patients they serve.          


·  Research shows that middle school years present a pivotal opportunity for educators to

   motivate students towards exploring a career path that provides them added incentive

   to study through high school and be more engaged in their studies.  

·  Youth are exposed to high demand health care occupations in the fields of: nursing, respiratory, occupational, and physical therapy,

    medical lab technology and emergency medicine (EMT) – via interactive, hands-on experience and clinical site visits.

  · Students wear scrubs, official name badges and receive a professional stethoscope, along with printed materials, notebooks and pens,

     t-shirts and a cinch bag all of which make up a “Camper’s Kit.”

  · Campers work on human patient simulators, make site visits at hospitals and clinics, conduct medical histories of elderly residents at

    Parkside Retirement Community and organize either a community “Health Fair” at the end of camp or present “Public Health

    Newscasts” using video interviews they conduct on campus and a powerpoint presentation. Check out our video!  

·  Every student is provided door-to-door transportation to and from the university campus which has been credited towards

    the very high attendance rate of the camps.  

·  Campers learn that health careers require practicing healthy behaviors, thus they engage in exercise programs and

    self-awareness projects focusing on nutrition, the ill-effects of fast food, sugar and soda. They are advised as to what

    courses to take in high school, how to prepare for a health care career and meet inspirational minority role models in

    health care.

  · Upon graduation, students are awarded a $2,000 scholarship to motivate them towards finishing high school. They may use it for any

    nursing or allied health program at Mercyhurst University.

  · The average cost of running a one-week camp for 25 students is $11,000. This includes two full-time co-camp counselors, recruitment,

     lunches, field trip and home pick-up transportation, stipends for external instructors and camper’s kit materials. Corporate sponsors

     defray the costs and Mercyhurst University provides free space, student nurses, pro bono faculty presentations to the students and

     administrative overhead.  

·  Creating a partnership with a local community college or university that offers educational programs in the health professions willing to

    sponsor the camps with in-kind support and corporate sponsors (e.g. hospitals, health insurance companies) and/or public sector

    entities (e.g. workforce investment programs, Departments of Labor and Industry) to defray operational costs -- make for a viable


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