By Rosanne Fohn
|(Left to right) Norma Martínez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, a clinical professor and director of the health camp, stands with Victoria Flores, the camp’s student coordinator; camper Valerie Nuñes; and Nuñes’ mentor, nursing student Rebekah Peña. Click on the photos for a larger view|
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The 20 middle school and high school girls attending a summer health camp at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio weren’t the only ones learning something new.
While these girls were earning First Aid and CPR certifications, developing expertise in teamwork and learning about different health careers, the UT Health Science Center nursing students leading those sessions were discovering how to become good leaders, mentors and teachers.
The summer health camp, initiated in 2012 by nursing Professor Norma Martínez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN
, is part of her Juntos Podemos
(Together We Can) mentoring program in the School of Nursing. Juntos Podemos
encourages nursing students to help each other achieve their goals through peer mentoring. Over the past few years, however, Juntos Podemos
has expanded to provide mentoring for pre-nursing students at UT San Antonio, as well as for younger minority students, such as those attending the health camp, and their parents. Positive values
During the sessions, the girls learned about fitness, healthy diets and good choices that prevent bullying and teen pregnancy. They earned First Aid and CPR certificates that will make them better babysitters. And they participated in hands-on scenarios in the School of Nursing’s Center for Simulation Innovation (CSI), a state-of-the-art simulation hospital
Having grown up without financial means herself, Dr. Martínez Rogers started the camp to encourage underprivileged girls to achieve and go to college. The clinical professor overcame tremendous odds to earn four educational degrees: a bachelor’s degree in nursing, master’s in counseling, master’s in psychiatric/mental health nursing and Ph.D. in the cultural foundations in education.
Focused on the future
|The girls learn about caring for a newborn baby in the School of Nursing’s Center for Simulation Innovation. State-of-the-art manikins and up-to-date hospital equipment help the girls get a taste of clinical education in the School of Nursing. |
“Because many of these girls may be the first in their families to consider going to college, we are encouraging them to begin thinking about possible career options now so that they can set goals and stay in school,” she said. “Teen pregnancy is a problem, so we are trying to show them there are more options available if they are focused and plan for their future.”
And so far, it seems to be working. Second-year camper Linda Yates, a high school freshman, said, “My favorite thing so far? I love everything!” Having toured neighboring University Hospital and assisted with “delivering a baby” in the CSI, Yates said, “My goal is to learn about the nursing field and to not be scared of it. I learned the most from delivering the baby and how to eat healthy.” She noted that nursing seems like an ideal career because there are so many options. “I like the idea of helping people,” she said.
Doriana Debrow, a middle school student, enjoyed using a stethoscope and learning how to take vitals. She also started eating healthier so that she will be in better shape to try out for athletics. One-on-one mentoring
Speaking of the nursing students who led the program and served as their mentors, eighth-grader Valeria Nuñes said, “They teach us to be leaders in a good way, to be responsible and to care for other people. They also teach us that one person can make a difference. They teach us how to cooperate with people ― even people you don’t even know,” she said, referring to the many teambuilding activities that will help the girls be successful in sports, group projects and potentially as nurses on a health care team in the future.
“It’s a good experience to work with the girls and it feels good to make a difference,” said Rebekah Peña, Nuñes’ mentor. “Not a lot of people have the chance to help change someone’s future and show them options,” said Peña, who would like to be a trauma nurse.Teaching and leading
This year, the nursing students had much more responsibility than last year. After being given broad topics, the student nurses wrote the curriculum, planned all of the activities and implemented the program. “We are hoping that having this taste of teaching will cause some of our students to consider continuing their education into graduate school. We need good faculty in nursing schools for the future,” Dr. Martínez Rogers said.
She appointed student nurse Victoria Flores to coordinate the camp. “Victoria did a great job,” Dr. Martínez Rogers said. “She gave the other nursing students their assignments and ensured that they were prepared. She is a good leader and she is good with the girls ― firm, but kind.”
Pausing momentarily with a stopwatch in hand, Flores said she has learned a lot about the importance of staying on schedule, thinking on her feet and improvising with her student-nurse teammates. “We learned early on that we needed to keep the girls active and to use competition to keep them engaged,” Flores said. Consequently, the girls got plenty of opportunities for fitness, including Zumba, kickboxing and an obstacle course, which are also part of a fun and healthy lifestyle.
Already with an eye on obtaining a master’s degree in public health, Flores said she was surprised at how much she has enjoyed the teaching role. “I found I really liked working with the girls,” she said. “Before I didn’t see myself as a professor, but now I kind of like the idea of it.”Proud parents
The camp ended with an official graduation ceremony on campus, to which the girl’s families were invited. Martínez Rogers hopes this will be a foreshadowing of the girls’ future success. Partners
The summer health camp is a collaboration between the School of Nursing and the Martinez Street Women’s Center, which includes the program as part of its Girl Zone Summer Camp.
Funds for the camp came from several sources, including the Martinez Street Women’s Center; San Antonio Independent School District, which provided transportation; Dr. Martínez Rogers, who paid for the girls’ lunches; and Lark Ford, M.S.N., RN, clinical assistant professor in the School of Nursing, who bought scrubs for the girls to wear to camp.