Twenty high school students arrived on Illinois State University’s campus June 23 for a three-day nurse camp, sponsored by the Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) PROUD (Pre-entry and Retention Opportunities for Undergraduate Diversity) grant.

These students, who are rising sophomores, juniors and seniors, came from Benson, Chicago, Decatur, Peoria, Toluca, as well as Bloomington-Normal.

PROUD Nurse Camp

Campers learn hands-on skills in Illinois State’s Nursing Simulation Lab.

The goals of the camp were to increase the participants’ awareness, interest, and knowledge of nursing career opportunities and educational requirements, as well as increase their confidence by providing a college experience that will prepare them for nursing school.

The campers participated in nursing scenarios at the MCN Simulation Lab and other areas across campus, interacted with current nursing students, and shadowed professionals at medical centers. A new highlight this year included taking the campers to the OSF St. Francis Medical Center campus to tour the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and the Jump Training Simulation Education Center.

“This was such a great experience for them,” said Olanna Pullen, outreach coordinator for the PROUD grant. “They experienced medical staff and administration caring for the unique needs of children, exposure to different specialty areas in nursing and how state-of-the-art equipment is used to prepare nursing staff for work with actual patients.”

Based on the evaluations from last year, there were a few new experiences this year for the campers, including CPR certification, and they were also given journals and were encouraged to write in them every day.

“We want them to have the best experience possible, so we value the feedback from the previous campers to try to make this camp experience even better,” said Pullen. “We also had a game night at Edwards Hall one night that was a big hit.”

PROUD Nurse Camp

PROUD campers learning CPR training.

The campers were able to job shadow at the medical centers, and several even saw a childbirth. Many of them already have their sights focused on being neonatal nurses and nurse practitioners.

“We could not provide this camp without the support of several organizations, including Advocate BroMenn, which helped us with the CPR/AED training,” said Pullen. “Stephanie Coram was a tremendous help with coordinating job shadows at OSF St. Joseph Medical Center and the Peoria facilities, and Clare Brust helped with the coordination at OSF St. James. We also had several faculty, graduate assistants, and nursing students who participated, and we thank them all for their time and hard work.”

There are plans to offer another summer nurse camp in 2015, but the dates are yet to be determined. Pullen recommends people visit the PROUD website or call (309) 438-1820 for more information about nurse camp.

The PROUD nurse camp is just one aspect of ongoing diversity initiatives at MCN, funded from a $1.1 million, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Administered through the department’s Health Resources Services Administration and Nursing Workforce Diversity, the grant is geared toward recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups to the nursing profession.