Camarena Health hosted its 6th annual Health Careers Start Here Youth Conference May 24 and 25 at the Madera Technical Exploration Center to support Madera Unified School District 8th grade students participating in the health pathway lab. The conference allowed students to interact with healthcare professionals and presented them with hands-on skills healthcare professionals experience each day.
Keynote speakers included Central Valley natives Dr. Mireya Samaniego, Associate Medical Director at Camarena Health, and Dr. Joel Ramirez, Chief Medical Officer at Camarena Health. Students had the opportunity to engage with speakers to hear about their profession, challenges they face, and their journey to becoming a doctor. Director of Behavioral Health Rosalba Serrano-Rivera and Behavioral Health Clinician Sandra Ochoa shared insight into their profession by discussing their career path, and how they support youth and adults with behavioral health needs.
“When the students learned about the conference coming in, it was such a huge thing for them because they knew they were going to be able to get in there and have hands on activities,” said Jennifer Richardson, the Health Science CTE teacher at Madera Technical Exploration Center when asked about what this meant to students that have spent more than a year learning virtually due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. “They were super excited, kind of nervous, but at the same time they were really thankful.”
Students engaged in several hands-on workshops. Each student received their own PPE kit and were lead through a PPE demonstration by PA clinical students from A.T. Still University completing their residencies with Camarena Health. Other workshops included an intubation and CPR activity lead by Dr. Cristina Vargas, Chief of Residency at Valley Children’s Hospital; a suturing workshop facilitated by Mr. Jessie Sumner, PA-C and Mr. Nathaniel Lara, PA-C; a vital signs session led by Camarena Health LVN Georgia L. Orbaker; and a concussion activity lead by Michelle Dommermuth, FNP.
Camarena Health facilitates this annual conference with the help of its A.T. Still University Physician Assistant Students which regularly includes local hometown scholars.
“I believe the youth conference is an invaluable experience to help gain exposure and pique interest in different fields of medicine,” said PA student Amber Aulakh. “I assisted the suturing workshop which allowed students to learn skills that most health professionals use daily. I think the conference was essential to help students break down barriers to achieve their dream that they thought was unattainable.”
Camarena Health takes pride in inspiring young people to pursue a career in healthcare with hope that they too may come back and help serve the communities in which they grew up.