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Health science camps promote careers and college

PULLMAN, Wash. – As most teens celebrate the end of the school year, 55 Native American and underserved high school students statewide are returning to learning for two weeks to explore health science careers at Washington State University.
The Na-ha-shnee Health Science Institute, designed for Native Americans, and the Creating a Nursing Path program, benefiting underserved students from Rogers High School (Spokane, Wash.), Pasco High School (Pasco, Wash.) and Davis High School (Yakima, Wash.), are under way June 17-28 at the Pullman campus.
health sciences camp
Brandon Smith, a Na-ha-shnee camper and
member of the Colville tribe, listens to sounds
of the heart on a simulation manikin.

The goal of both programs is to inform students about careers in health sciences, help them experience what it’s like to be a college student and introduce them to Native American/underserved college students who have overcome obstacles similar to theirs and found the pathway to higher education.

“We see a great need for nursing skills and for our people to become positive role models in their Native and home communities,” said Robbie Paul, director of Na-ha-shnee, which is in its 18th year. “This camp piques their interest and allows them to see they can go to college and have a successful career in health sciences.”
Na-ha-shnee campers represent 15 tribes: Colville Confederated Tribes, Warm Springs, Lummi, Nooksack, Chippewa, Northern Cheyenne, Coeur d’Alene, Apache/Intuit, Pyramid Lakes Paiute, Cow Creek Umpqua Tribe of Oregon, Blackfeet, Chehalis, Cherokee, Haliwa-Saponi and Spokane.
Students will participate in a variety of activities, including:
– Viewing cadavers and examining body parts in a human anatomy lab
– A choice of mini health care workshops presented by Native American health care providers, including a nurse, doctor, community/public health nurse, social worker, exercise physiologist and pharmacist
– Simulated health care scenarios at Pullman Regional Hospital
– DNA extraction
– CPR and first aid training
– Exploring the history, culture and health care needs of Native Americans
“These types of learning experiences make a tremendous impact on our students,” said Paul. “We even have nine returning campers this year. We view these students as the ones who are particularly committed to pursuing a career in the health sciences, and that’s exciting for everyone involved.”
health sciences camp students
Na-ha-shnee campers learn math used
in nursing.

Breakout workshops will encourage self-discovery and expose students to other aspects of college:

– Healthy diet
– Pre-nursing advising
– Math and English classes
– Cultural identity
– Leadership skills
– High ropes challenge course
Na-ha-shnee organizers engaged with multiple colleges, programs and institutions to provide a well-rounded experience, including the WSU College of Nursing, WSU College of Pharmacy, Pullman Regional Hospital and Eastern Washington University physical therapy program. WSU Native American nursing students serve as counselors, and faculty and university students offer guidance about applying for college and seeking scholarship/funding support.
About Na-ha-shnee
Na-ha-shnee is an amalgamation of the words Native American high school summer nursing institute; it has no literal translation in any tribal language. Na-ha-shnee encourages Native American youth to explore and pursue careers in the health sciences by providing learning experiences with Native health care providers as teachers and role models.
Funding for the institute is provided by the Trude Smith Native American College of Nursing Endowment, WSU College of Nursing, NARCH V National Institutes of Health Grant: Growing Our Own Native American Students & Faculty, WSU Creighton Foundation, and U.S. Department of Education/Indian Education Grant with the Colville Tribes and Lake Roosevelt School District.
About Creating a Nursing Path
The goal of this project is to increase the number of disadvantaged graduates from the baccalaureate nursing program (BSN) at the WSU College of Nursing who are prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and practice in rural and federally designated underserved areas. The target population is disadvantaged students, including Latino/a and American Indian, from federally designated, medically underserved areas.
The project is supported by $894,550 from the nursing division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under D19 HP 19023, Creating a New Path: Preparing Disadvantaged Students for Nursing Careers.
About WSU Spokane
WSU Spokane features advanced studies and research in health sciences and health professions, education, social and policy sciences, and science and technology. WSU is one of just 95 public and private research universities with very high research activity, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications. U.S. News & World Report ranks WSU as one of the top public research universities in the nation.
About the WSU College of Nursing
Founded in 1968, the college educates more than 1,000 students each year, one of the largest educators of nurses on the West Coast. WSU offers nursing degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels at five sites across the state. The college is active in research, supporting the health care needs of rural communities and providing students with interprofessional and simulated learning opportunities statewide.
For more information on Native American recruitment efforts occurring at WSU Spokane, visit the Native American Recruitment and Retention Program at
Alli Benjamin, Communications & Marketing Manager, WSU College of Nursing,, 509-324-7340

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