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High schoolers will explore studies and careers at inaugural health sciences camp

Students and faculty work with two manikins in mock hospital setting
Students and faculty work with two manikins in a mock hospital setting.

Boise State’s College of Health Sciences’ students, faculty and graduates are jumping in this summer to provide answers to that age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Patterned after Kansas State University’s summer camp and supported by Boise State Provost John Buckwalter and College of Health Sciences Dean Tim Dunnagan, as many as 20 high school juniors and seniors will become temporary Broncos July 15-17.

High schoolers will sample health sciences programs and the careers the programs lead to. They’ll take part in hands-on experiences. They’ll visit labs, the Albertsons Library and the Rec Center. They’ll stay in dorms and enjoy dining commons fare. They may even do a bit of rock climbing.

The three-day summer camp will build awareness of the wide variety of professions within health care, orient potential university students to campus life, and widen the runway for Idaho healthcare employees.

There is ample evidence to suggest that young people often have no familiarity with what college entails, much less where it might lead. Studies also show that the earlier in life there is exposure to the benefits of learning the better set up people are to succeed throughout their lives. But then there are the benefits of understanding what’s involved in healthcare beyond “doctor” and “nurse,” and supporting the spectrum of human health in the Gem State.

“People know what a nurse is, but they don’t grow up playing with a public health Barbie doll,” said College of Health Sciences Associate Dean Lutana Haan who credits Mike Mann, director of the college’s School of Public and Population Health, for the illustration.

“People are drawn to these caring professions and they don’t know the scope of the opportunities out there for them. It’s not a ‘one size fits all,’” she said. “There are a lot of spots for people to have rewarding careers in healthcare, and it might be different than they thought.”

By spending time on campus as temporary Broncos, potential health sciences majors get a glimpse of what college life is like in a Boise State College of Health Sciences context, according to Haan. And the camp – along with the camp counselors who are health sciences students, faculty members and graduates – won’t stop with the first-year experience. Strategies for navigating professional school applications and becoming competitive applicants are part of the program.

“If they come here as freshmen knowing more about what the different opportunities are, the higher the likelihood that they can graduate in four years, and know about their best fit,” Haan said.

A first for the College of Health Sciences

Word of the opportunity is going out across Idaho through Health Occupations Students of America, Future Health Professionals, an international career and technical student organization endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Technology Education Division of the Association for Career and Technical Education. Boise State contacts at local high schools also are being alerted to the opportunity.

In this pilot year, participation will be capped at 20 high school juniors and seniors. Camp participation may be expanded in the future with the possibility of two cycles during the summer.

The summer camp is in keeping with the college’s ongoing support of and collaboration with Idaho healthcare organizations in expanding the pool of skilled professionals. The state’s clinician shortage is well-documented, but the recent COVID-19 pandemic and Idaho’s increased population and diversity within the population have compounded challenges in recruiting, training and retaining across healthcare.

“Universities need to be more involved with kids at younger ages,” Haan observed. “The goal is to help people connect in ways they’ve not been able to do previously.”

Register Now

The Health Sciences Camp will be held July 15-17. High school juniors and seniors of the 2024-25 academic year who are interested in pursuing careers in the healthcare sector are encouraged to sign up. The camp costs $250 for room, food and activities. Participation is first-come, first-served with full payment required upon registration.

Registration Now

For questions and more information, contact Lutana Haan at or (208) 426-2124.