Promoting health care careers in South Dakota through Scrubs Camps

HOT SPRINGS, S.D, (KOTA TV) - Dozens of high school students slip on gloves at a hospital in Hot Springs to get a hands on training about the health care industry.

A high school student practices sutures on the skin of a chicken. (KOTA TV)

Fifty-one teenagers from five high schools suited up at Fall River Health Services to practice their medical skills.

At Scrubs Camp students see how casts are made and practice their suture skills on chicken skin.

After participating in the camp for four years, 17-year-old Jenna said it's why she wants to now be a nurse.

"When I first started, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to be in the medical field or not. I was kind of thinking more teaching but then after going to this it's helped me go towards the medical field," Jenna Ostenson, a Edgemont High School senior said.

It's exactly what the state had in mind when creating these camps.

The camp manager, Ed Pellicotte said with baby boomers retiring, a shortage of health care professionals is a fear.

"Thing is we are a rural state and we don't want to lose our talent to these bigger cities and bigger areas, we need them actually right here. You'll find that we are pretty competitive on the pay and we're competitive on having jobs here in the state. So if you love South Dakota stick with South Dakota," Pellicotte said.

According to the Scrubs Camp website, health care jobs will increase by 17 percent in the next two years.

Though these students may have nicknamed the mannequin's arm Josh, learning how to draw blood now may just ensure another future employee.

Recently, the hospital hired a lab technician who graduated from Western Dakota Tech who attended the camp when she was in high school.

"She went to phlebotomy school, then she went to lab school also. So, it's exciting to see these kids excited about science and possibly getting some of these students to be lab professionals. Because there's a shortage. We need lab professionals," April Olstad, Lab Manager at Fall River Health Services, said.

Hot Springs is one of 21 sites across the state hosting Scrubs Camp and plans to hold another round next year in October.