Last year a partnership between Dalton State, Mercer University, Hamilton Medical Center and Dalton Public Schools launched a summer medical camp for rising 9th and 10th grade students. Last week the camp returned this year for its second year with the theme of "If I Had a Heart... Attack."
Heather Sliger is the healthcare science technology teacher at Dalton Middle School. She was hired last year to help start the school's introduction to healthcare science program.
"The 2017-2018 school year was the first year that DPS had a healthcare science program," Sliger said. "This previous school year they started the introduction to healthcare science at the high school level. This is our second year of having a healthcare science program, so it's still all new and fresh."
The summer camp began as an extension of the healthcare science program. According to Sliger, the goal of the camp is to give the students information about the healthcare field and encourage them to pursue a healthcare profession.
They chose this year's theme in order to teach students about the various treatments that occur when a patient has a heart attack.
"We're walking students through from the very beginning of a heart attack," Sliger said. "We go from calling 911 to CPR to the emergency room to the Cath Lab, the operating room. And then we finish up with cardiac rehab to where that patient goes home, and then we can help them build a healthy lifestyle to where their heart is healthy."
There were 27 rising 9th and 10th grade students involved in this year's camp, hosted at the new Anna Shaw Children's Institute. A few of the students attended the camp last year, but many of them are new to the program.
"I have five students that have returned from last year's medical camp and then I had one student that was actually in my intro to healthcare class," Sliger said. "Then all the other students are just excited about healthcare."
During the camp, students have the opportunity to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), tour parts of the Hamilton Medical Center and the Dalton State simulation lab, dissect an animal heart, hear from a variety of guest speakers, and more.
"it gives them a very authentic feeling when they can be here and see the hospital," Sliger said. "It's not at the school so it doesn't feel like school."
Johnny Sims, a rising 10th grader from Dalton High School, said he learned a lot about the heart at this year's camp.
"I've learned about the lungs, and how the left atrium meets with the left ventricle and the right atrium meets with the right ventricle and how your lungs give your whole body oxygen," Sims said. "At first, I wanted to be a teacher, but I feel like it's still good to have a background in medical information. But that might change. I might go back into the medical field."
Katherine Crespin, a rising 9th grader from Dalton High School, wanted to be a surgeon ever since she first watched the television show, Grey's Anatomy. She enjoyed getting to see the inner workings of the heart during the dissection.
"It's been really good so far," Crespin said. "We visit a lot of places, do a lot of fun stuff, do a lot of new things, and overall, it's just a good experience."
Triniti Mouzon, a rising 10th grader at Dalton High School, said she would recommend that anyone come to the camp, regardless of their level of interest in the medical field.
"Come to this camp because you learn a lot more than you think you would, even doing little things, you learn," Mouzon said. "Even if you don't think you'll get something out of it, you'll walk out with something you didn't know before."