Summer Health Career Camps

One of the critical components of the Health Career Pipeline Programming offered through the Statewide Pipeline Program is the summer health career camps for students interested in health careers.  Camps are offered for students at various age levels and preparation.

Depending upon the location, these camps range from 4 days to 3 weeks and can require students to commute each day or reside on a college campus for the duration of the camp. 

*For more info about the summer camp options for students in your particular region of the state, please contact the Health Career Coordinator in your AHEC region

Some camps are region specific and are only open to students within a particular AHEC’s service region.  Others, specifically those offered by the UK Central AHEC Office, are open to students from across the state. 

The UK AHEC offers two residential summer camps for current high school students.  The Summer Enrichment Program Camp is open to Kentucky-resident rising high school juniors (current sophomores) who attend a school in Kentucky.  The Health Researchers Youth Academy Camp is open to Kentucky-resident rising high school seniors (current juniors) who attend a school in Kentucky.  Applications are reviewed by a committee of AHEC personnel and partners from the UK campus and around the state.  Based on various criteria (letter of recommendation, personal statements, transcript, etc.), invitations are extended to students selected to attend. 

Learn more from 2019 camper Saisha Dhar: 

"When my roommate casually told me, she fainted while observing a thyroidectomy, I was taken aback. She explained the course of events in more detail, concluding with her denied request to go back into the operating room to view the surgery. I laughed; yet again, I was reminded of this group’s undeterred passion for healthcare.

 In the summer of 2019, I participated in the Area Health Education Center (AHEC) program at the University of Kentucky (UK). The Summer Enrichment Program, for rising juniors, and the Health Researchers Youth Academy, for rising seniors, are three-week residential summer camps which are of no cost to participants. The camps are for those interested in pursuing or exploring a career in healthcare. The selective application requires a personal statement, transcript, and letters of recommendation, resulting in the admittance of 20 students from Kentucky to each of the two programs. The potential phone call congratulating you on your acceptance, however, makes the application process worthwhile.

My passion for medicine dates all the way back to playing with a toy stethoscope and listening to the heartbeat of my parents as a young girl. My immediate connection with this tool developed into a mature love for understanding the various elements and intricacies of medicine. I have had an interest in studying medicine for as long as I can remember. AHEC exposed me to the various areas of healthcare, including cardiology, neuroscience, pediatrics, and surgery. I am now not only more open-minded in choosing my pathway, but I am also more appreciative of the specialties in the medical field.

Participants in the Summer Enrichment Program take classes in chemistry, biology, and physics on a regular schedule. My peers and I were able to listen to a multitude of thought-provoking and inspiring lectures from UK professors and healthcare professionals. I realized that the lifestyle of a physician varies from field to field, and that it is imperative to maintain a healthy work-life balance. We toured multiple buildings, such as the College of Dentistry, Don Frasier Outreach Center, and Chandler Hospital. Additionally, we volunteered at God’s Pantry and even had the opportunity to get a CPR certification.

Every Wednesday was dedicated to shadowing clinical specialties. We would wake up prepared to begin the most anticipated day of the week, with everyone observing different fields both on and off the UK campus. I shadowed the departments of physical therapy, pediatrics, radiology, and dentistry over the course of three weeks. Shadowing alone or in small pairs allowed an accessible outlet for asking doctors specific questions and understanding detailed concepts. At the pediatric department of the Kentucky Clinic, I was involved in the process of diagnosing a patient’s illness based on symptoms and previous history. I was amazed by how the physician was able to correctly determine the illness before she even saw the patient. In the third week, we watched a live laparoscopic gallbladder surgery and were able to ask the surgeon questions about the procedure immediately after.

Rising seniors in the Health Researchers Youth Academy (HRYA) saw a few similar presentations as those in the Enrichment Program. Participants in HRYA, however, had detailed classes in physiology. Instead of focusing on shadowing, their main goal was to develop a professional research poster over the duration of the camp and give a poster presentation at the closing ceremony competition. Nonetheless, the two grade levels had numerous interactions during presentations, group discussions, meals, and in the dormitory, where we shared the notable events of the day with one another.

AHEC nurtured my commitment to healthcare by introducing me to like-minded people who had similar career aspirations as me, yet varying backgrounds. High schoolers from all regions of Kentucky attended the program, which fostered a well-rounded and diverse environment. My companions from Eastern and Southern Kentucky had completely different day-to-day lives than those from Lexington. In spite of that, our common affinity for healthcare strengthened our immediate attachments.

From playing daily tennis matches at the Johnson Center, to deciding between Blue Reef Sushi and Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, there was never a dull moment. We even happily marched to the building next door to do our laundry. My friends and I didn’t realize that we were forming irreplaceable bonds while waiting in the never-ending Starbucks line every morning. When the final day arrived, so did many tears, but not just for the end of camp: We knew that each one of us would go on to help save lives and make an impact in our part of the world. We were all beyond delighted for each other, and knew we would see everyone in medical school someday.

If I attempted to include all the benefits of participating in AHEC, this article would be too long. I sincerely hope that if you have any interest in the medical field or want to explore the career choices, you will apply to this life changing program. Along with obtaining a thorough understanding of the medical field, you become accustomed to living on a college campus and learn the responsibilities of time and money management. Whether you are currently a sophomore or junior, these opportunities are waiting to be taken advantage of. I would be more than happy to give other insights about my experience or answer any questions." 

Stay tuned for 2020 camp dates!  

Registration for both summer camps is currently CLOSED. 

For more information about the residential summer camps at the University of Kentucky contact Lisa Hatten at lisa.hatten@uky.edu, email healthcareers@uky.edu or call 859.323.1378.

If you have interest in being a Resident Advisor for camp please contact Emily Chambers at emily.chambers@uky.edu or 859.323.8013.  RAs must have at least completed their freshman year of college before camp starts.  

View a video from the 2013 Summer Camp or more pictures on the UK AHEC Flickr Page!

Find answers to Camp FAQs here!