The Aroostook Medical Center’s Survivor Aroostook inspires next generation of workers

10 years ago

   PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Health care professionals and volunteers from TAMC and other organizations recently held the 12th annual weeklong adventure of discovery, innovation, and exploration, with a health care twist. Survivor Aroostook is designed to introduce area youth to possible careers in health care.
The camp connects incoming high school students, ages 13-14, with local medical professionals in a hands-on, supportive environment. It provides participants the opportunity to discover a variety of occupations during a week of teambuilding, exploration, and fun. Just like in the reality television show “Survivor,” campers are grouped in various tribes and must work together throughout the week competing in a variety of team activities, such as wheelchair racing, scavenger hunt, and team obstacle course.
Campers took part in a variety of exercises and challenges that allowed them to understand what working within the health care industry is like. During the week, campers were introduced to as many as 20 different health care careers by way of hands-on investigation. One of the most unique aspects of Survivor Aroostook was the disaster drill, which gave campers the opportunity to respond to patients the same as they would during a high stress, critical care situation.
“For many, the week of activity helps guide future educational and career development,” said Barbara Turner, health care recruiter and lead Survivor Aroostook camp organizer for TAMC. “As northern Maine’s largest provider of health care services, we see this camp as a key opportunity to both help build the future workforce of the industry, as well as a way to demonstrate the vibrant health care community that exists here in The County.”
That has certainly proven to be true over the years, as past campers have grown up and entered the health care field. This fact has been driven home in a very personal way with the 2014 edition. Three of the tribe leaders/counselors for this year’s 45 campers were not only past campers themselves, who are working on degrees in health care fields, but they also have close ties to TAMC.
Maegan Fitzpatrick, Allyson Carmichael and Shea Craig were all campers at Survivor Aroostook 2009 and wanted to help ensure this year’s campers had an amazing experience like they did years ago.
“I am so thankful to have attended and then worked at Survivor Aroostook; it shaped me in so many different ways,” said Fitzpatrick of Washburn. “It showed me so many different aspects of health care, and showed me how different health professions work cohesively together.”
Fitzpatrick is the daughter of Cherri Fitzpatrick, TAMC’s chief quality officer. She will be entering her sophomore year at the University of New England this fall in the occupational therapy program and plans to practice in a hospital after receiving her master’s degree.
Fitzpatrick’s cousin joined her as a camper in 2009 and now also as a counselor in 2014.
“It meant so much to be able to come back, help influence others, and help them realize the importance of the health profession,” said Carmichael of Houlton. “Coming here in 2009 really opened my eyes to the medical professions and created this desire to further my dreams of becoming a health professional. The camp introduced me to so many avenues in health care, and has proven to be the starting point of my desire to become an OB/GYN.”
Carmichael is currently attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick in the liberal arts and pre-health programs.
Ashland’s Craig, daughter of David Craig, TAMC manager of laboratory services, and Vilma Craig, TAMC manager of clinical education, shared a similar sentiment.
“I just wanted to help the kids have a great experience at the camp just like I did,” said Craig. “As a camper, it was a great experience and I loved every minute of it, especially the disaster drill.”
Craig is enrolled at Husson University in the occupational therapy program, and hopes to receive her master’s degree and work with children in Maine.
One other camp counselor with a TAMC family connection was Dakota Koch of Washburn. Koch is the daughter of Liane Koch, the clinical coordinator on TAMC’s Women and Children’s Unit. She had not attended Survivor Aroostook as a past participant, but is following in her mother’s footsteps working toward her associate’s degree in nursing at NMCC.
“I plan on continuing my education to earn my BSN, and I would like to earn my master’s in midwifery or CRNA,” said Koch.