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Green glow = germs for PharmCamp kids
Viewing their freshly washed hands under an ultraviolet light was cool — until Yuma PharmCamp students were told the funky glowing stuff was germs.
When students in the program were asked to wash their hands, they just thought it was part of their assignment instructions — but it was actually a test.
“All of them had to go back and wash their hands again,” said Theodore Tong, associate dean and professor at the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy.
A group of eighth-grade students were recently selected to attend a week-long Yuma PharmCamp 2013 program. They not only learned about the field of pharmacy, but also explored and researched various other medical topics — which included the importance of thorough hand-washing.
Although the program was implemented at the UA’s main campus in Tucson back in 1997, it was started locally only five years ago when Caroline Jessen, a Yuma Friends of the UA Arizona Health Sciences Center member, asked if they would consider bringing the camp to Yuma.
Only 28 students of the almost 60 who applied were chosen to attend from Crane and Centennial middle schools as well as from St. Francis of Assisi School. The students were interviewed by members of the Yuma Friends of the UA Arizona Health Sciences Center.
Tong said the camp’s goal is to raise awareness about the various options that exist for the students in terms of careers in the health field. Students spent time learning about health and wellness and also gained a better understanding of the role pharmacists play in clinics, community pharmacies, hospitals and other locations.
From 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., students spent time doing things that professionals do in the health sciences fields on a day-to-day basis, Tong said. Another facet of the program, he said, was having the students conduct and present research projects on topics they selected.
“I didn’t learn about this kind of stuff until college,” he said. “I wish I had something like this when I was their age. The more the kids have these experiences the better prepared they will be.”
They also learned that being a pharmacist is more than just filling prescriptions, he explained, noting that students also took field trips to the Yuma Regional Medical Center pharmacy, Santa Teresa pharmacy, Regional Center for Border Health, Kachina Pharmacy and Walgreens pharmacy.
UA student Ariane Guthrie, a counselor for the Yuma PharmCamp, said that it was fun watching the students learn more about the field and about other health care topics.
“A lot of them didn’t really know what a pharmacist really does,” she said.
Guthrie, a graduate of Yuma High School who has been a PharmCamp counselor for four years now, said that she is working on her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and plans to apply for pharmacy school after graduation.
Crane Middle School student Danny Urbieta, 13, said that one of this favorite activities from the camp was getting to make hand sanitizer.
“It was easy to make,” he said, noting that he was surprised at the simplicity of the project.
With the hope to be an anesthesiologist in the future, he said that he also enjoyed visiting the pharmacy in the hospital where he had the opportunity to see various medications and learn about how they were administered.
Fellow classmate Nataly Prieto, 13, said that the camp was a great experience, getting to do hands-on experiments and visiting different pharmacies and clinics.
While she is unsure what she wants to do for a career later in life, she said that this program has sparked her interest in the field of pharmacy.
Edgardo Castro, 12, said that during the camp he especially liked learning about the history of pharmacy over the years.
“It was interesting to see how pharmacy and pharmacists have evolved over time,” he said.
Castro, also a Crane student, said that he wanted to be a part of the program because he wants to be a doctor later in life.
“I applied because it’d be a great opportunity and stepping stone for the future,” he said.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.