Feb. 5, 2024

Summer program highlights careers in health professions

Sanford Health and NDSU’s Health Occupations and Professions Exploration program helped Lydia Fortin find her career path.

Fortin considered a career in the medical field since high school, but her plans were set when she discovered radiologic sciences while participating in the HOPE Camp in 2019.

The four-day summer program, sponsored by NDSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences and Sanford Health, gives high school students interested in health care careers a behind-the-scenes look at occupations, including pharmacy, radiologic sciences, pathology and more.

Fortin said attending the program introduced her to various health care careers she didn’t even know were available. 

“It was really guided to learn about all of these different health care fields because when you think health care, you think of a doctor or nurse,” said Fortin, a senior from Dilworth, Minnesota. “And that’s kind of where people are stuck. They’re like ‘I want to be in health care, I want to help people, but I don’t know where it fits for me.’ So I think that’s, to me, what HOPE Camp does.”    

Aleisha Lokken, the director of student affairs in the College of Health and Human Sciences, said the program is a way for students to get a first-hand glimpse into a career they may want to enter.

“Students in camp have opportunities to see areas of healthcare programs and their workspaces many won’t see until they’re well into their educational journey,” Lokken said. “This is a fantastic way to determine if a career is right for you.”  

HOPE Camp was a lightbulb moment for Fortin, who became passionate about sonography by the end of her experience. Attending the camp not only made the transition to college a little easier, but it also highlighted the sonography program NDSU offers in conjunction with Sanford Medical Center in Fargo.

“I have no idea if I would even be at NDSU if I hadn’t gone to HOPE Camp because I wouldn’t have even known about the program,” Fortin said. “It definitely pushed me in that direction.”

This past summer was the 10th year of HOPE Camp. While the program was at first made possible by a Walgreens Diversity Program grant and Sanford Health, Lokken said the College of Health and Human Sciences and Sanford Health have made HOPE Camp part of their yearly budgets.

High school juniors and seniors from rural Minnesota and North Dakota, along with recent high school graduates are eligible to apply.

Dana Davis, who was an academic partner for the camp at NDSU and then transitioned to a role at Sanford last year, said being a part of HOPE Camp has been a great experience.

“Meeting students when they are early on in setting their career goals, and being able to see them begin to define them, work toward them and then seeing them out in practice is the ultimate career reward,” Davis said. “It is a pretty amazing experience.”

Lokken said interested students should attend HOPE Camp with an open mind.

“Come to learn about health career options, but keep an open mind,” she said. “Even if you know what you’d like to study after high school, there are so many possibilities to learn more about.”

Fortin recommends attending HOPE Camp to learn more about the various health care careers and meet new people.

“If you have any interest in health care, definitely go through it,” she said. “Even if you think you know what you want to do, it just opens up so many doors and opportunities. Not only to see different health care fields that you didn’t know about, but also networking to meet people and get your foot in the door at Sanford in Fargo and get to know NDSU as well.”

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