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Camp Not for the Faint of Heart

For high school students looking to explore the vast world of medicine, summer camps offer plenty opportunity. This July, University of St. Thomas hosted Camp Cardiac, a week-long summer camp that brought local high school students face-to-face with daily life in the medical field.

Camp Cardiac was founded in 2012 by cardiac surgeon Dr. Richard Lee along with medical students, to provide high school students the opportunity to explore careers in medicine. With a focus on both education and real world experience, Camp Cardiac students have a unique opportunity to learn directly from experts in the medical field. In addition, this one-week summer day camp provides a foundation for heart healthy living with an emphasis on both diet and exercise.

UST Alumnus Adeel Faruki ’12, who has a bachelor’s in biology, is responsible for bringing the camp to St. Thomas as well as organizing and leading the camp. Faruki, who is beginning his second year at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, said it was the opportunity for students to gain firsthand experience within the medical field that drew him to the camp.

“With exposure to the medical field, now they can better direct themselves in college,” Faruki said. “We had presentations on cardiac disease, and presenters with different backgrounds: the director of general surgery at UTH, one of the nation’s best emergency medicine physicians, a premier interventional cardiologist, and the author of numerous study skills textbooks.”

Faruki and four other medical students from UT-HMS, along with UST pre-med students Gina Duong, junior biology major, and Luke Hebert, sophomore biology major, led activities ranging from knot tying to a pig heart dissection. Twenty-five students worked in small groups on assigned research projects that they presented on the last day of camp.

Students also spent a day in the Texas Medical Center, where they toured the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, watched a surgery, visited a cadaver lab and saw the Life Flight helipad.

“It was surprising how much of the serious medical related information they understood,” Hebert said. “The camp definitely exposed them to more of the scarier and intriguing parts of internal medicine and cardiology. I am glad I got to help because I learned so much.”

Beyond the medical field, the camp also promoted healthy living and lifestyle choices. Students learned about nutrition and ate healthy foods for snacks and meals. They also participated in scheduled exercise breaks throughout the week.

Faruki said the camp was a success. We filled the camp to maximum capacity. Faruki said the experts they brought in were interesting and dynamic, and St. Thomas was kind enough to offer facilities and cater the camp through dining service, Aramark.

“We really hope to bring it back to UST,” Faruki said. “The facilities were great, the school was very accommodating and the students really enjoyed it. They were sad when it ended.”

The University of St. Thomas Pre-Medical program is designed to prepare students for entry into medical school. The program is a rigorous science and math-based program that can be combined with any major.

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