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'World needs more doctors': Camp teaches middle schoolers about health sciences

mash camp ou tulsa schusterman health
Posted at 6:47 AM, Jul 11, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — Math, science, and health: that’s what middle schoolers learned this week at what’s called Mini MASH Camp at the OU Tulsa Schusterman Center.

Those at the OU-TU School of Community Medicine are looking to get campers into those subjects and, hopefully, into vital fields.

“The School of Community Medicine is a medical school,” said Caleb Burruss, “but we’re much more than that.”

Burruss is a second-year medical student at the school and a counselor at the four-day Mini MASH Camp.

“Community medicine is about more than just medicine,” he explained to 2 News. “It is access to food, access to health care – you know – changing lifestyles to make people healthier, people in general, so they don’t have to go to the doctor as much.”

Mash camp ou tulsa schusterman health
Caleb Burruss shows a group of middle schoolers an ultrasound scan of a throat at Mini Mash Camp.

Their goal at the camp, he said, is to give the 24 children knowledge about that and educate them about health disparities in Tulsa.

At one of the camp classes they taught middle schoolers how to use ultrasounds on eyeballs and throats. The campers used the handheld device on one of the counselors, Charles Parsons, acting as the cadaver. The counselors explained to them what’s exactly on the monitor and how to read the scan.
While there were other exercises at the camp, like dissecting sheeps’ eyeballs, campers also learned core skills like taking blood pressure and heart rates and communicating with patients.

mash camp ou tulsa schusterman health
Campers observe the counselors' demonstration of how to use ultrasound.

The hope is to inspire these students to enter a career in health sciences, especially amid a shortage of doctors that Burruss told 2 News impacts urban and rural areas alike.

Asked if he thinks the world needs more doctors, camper Roshan Kunapuli replied, “Well, yesterday we learned about areas in just our city alone that don’t have access to good healthcare… And there’s an 11-year difference in our city. So, yeah, I think the world needs more doctors.”

Kunapuli, 13, is about to start eighth grade. Although he’s leaning toward becoming some kind of doctor – such as an orthopedic surgeon, like his dad – he told 2 News he’s keeping his mind open.

They also learned about nursing, physical therapy, and first responders. Firefighters visited the camp to tell campers about their line of work. They certainly made a splash, as they hosed down the middle schoolers for good measure afterward.

mash camp ou tulsa schusterman center firefighters

However, the School of Community Medicine hopes to teach them something greater.

“Instead of just learning – you know – how do we prescribe medicine, how to be a doctor, we learn more about how do we take care of our patients,” said Burruss. “We know that, here in Tulsa, there is health disparities and so our goal here is to learn more about how I do treat the patient as a whole, how do I better my community.”

Time in the classroom isn’t what a lot of children think is the ideal summer. That is, unless it’s fun – something the mini MASH Camp aimed to do when teaching them about math, science, and health.

Kunapuli said if the learning is “beneficial, then yes,” it’s a good way to spend summer break.

However, he added MASH Camp “isn’t, like, just some lectures in a hall. This is, like, hands-on experiences – that’s what makes it fun. And I get to make a bunch of new friends.”

While this summer’s Mini MASH Camp is over, signups open next spring for the summer 2025 session of it and the MASH Camp for high schoolers.

Also, there is Club Scrubs, a program at the Schusterman Center free for high school students interested in exploring health careers. Click here for more information.

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