Health career camp focuses on U.P. student retention

MARQUETTE — The third annual Rural Health Careers Camp is taking over NMU this week as selected students from around the U.P. were chosen to learn about the soon-to-be available careers in the field.

This three-day camp provides high school students with learning experiences about different health careers and shows them the opportunities available in the profession. The camp’s added emphasis on educating rural high school students allows facilitators to focus on ultimately keeping U.P. students in the U.P.

“It’s to keep the U.P. kids in the U.P-getting them interested in wanting to stay within their community; learn a career and come back to serve the community they grew up in,” said Paula Swartout, the Human Resources Manager for Dickinson County Hospital. “That’s the important part of it. This is a special area and it takes a special kind of person to serve this population.”

“My goal for students in the U.P. is to pursue their education both in and out of the U.P. and then return back to the U.P,” said Dr. Craig Coccia, the Neuroscience Medical Director at UP Health System-Marquette. “I think getting experiences outside of the U.P. are very important, but we want them to have a very strong connection to the Upper Peninsula and return to the serve the people and patients of the U.P. in the coming years.”

Dr. Coccia was the keynote speaker at Tuesday’s banquet, speaking about the awards and challenges of the field. With an expected shortage of health care workers in the coming years, local entities have been looking for new techniques for recruiting, like sponsoring camps like this.