Being a doctor or nurse trends high on the list of common aspirations for young people thinking about careers. Less common: a wide range of allied health professions—like respiratory therapists and dietitians—that may not typically cross a student’s radar. Expanding those horizons for Boston youth is exactly the objective of Partners HealthCare Career Day at Camp Harbor View, which was recently held on July 11 and August 8, with the support from 40 clinicians and health care professionals across Partners hospitals, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH), Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Care providers taking part in the day travel by boat to Long Island in Boston Harbor, where Camp Harbor View hosts as many as 900 Boston campers ages 11-14 each summer. Partners Career Day offers a range of mentoring, social support, and career readiness programs designed to link campers—many from underserved neighborhoods and lower-income families—with new opportunities.

Campers who participate in Career Days discover new opportunities by rotating between hands-on stations which highlight health care topics, ranging from rehabilitation approaches from physical therapists, to healthy relationships from counselors with Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Passageway Program.

“The impact of Career Day is so big for the campers, but also for all of the presenters—everyone can learn a lot from each other,” says Katie Plante, MS, CHES, Community Health and Wellness Assistant with Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH), who presented a “Make Your Own Trail Mix” station to educate campers on healthy eating. “The kids were genuinely interested in how the food they were eating affects their whole body.”

Allie Lang, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian at BWFH, who co-presented the station, was equally impressed with the campers’ engagement. “They were immediately excited they were getting a snack, which became excitement to learn about healthy snacking,” she says. “They eagerly asked questions and discussed the nutritional benefits of each ingredient.”

Time will tell whether that excitement leads the campers to health careers, but at least one camper was overheard expressing interest. Walking back to the boat, the 11-year-old turned to her friend, “When I grow up,” she said, “I want to be a physical therapist.”

Read more about Camp Harbor View on its website.

Photo credit: Judith Gibson-Okunieff

Topics: Community Partnerships, Health Professions

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