DUNEDIN, Fla. — It only takes a second to create that spark of interested needed to shape a child's life. And a camp is hoping to do that as it exposes students to nursing and other health care careers.

“This is how we do blood draws for babies," said a BayCare nurse at Diane Rauch Camp Nurse Jr. 

What You Need To Know

  • The camp, held at Mease Dunedin Hospital, is offering students entering seventh and eighth grade the opportunity to explore nursing and other health care careers

  • Students get exposure to a multitude of health care fields during the three-day camp and receive hands-on training in vital signs and CPR

  • Students must apply to get into the camp by email: campnursejr@baycare.org

  • 24 students were accepted into the camp this year. 

Patricia Cronin is a rising eighth grader at Palm Harbor Middle School. She knew she wanted to be a part of this camp for a while, with family members who are nurses. 

“How the nurses were helping patients with their medications, helping patients get up and moving around,” said Cronin. "I just talked about how like it's like how much stuff they have to do because it's really crazy how much they have to handle.”

Cronin is one of 24 students who applied to be BayCare's Diane Rauch Camp Nurse Jr.

“So, this is the sixth year since the camp has been renamed. And I just can't wait to see what you guys do in the future in health care," said Heather Peirce-Wheeler, the daughter of the camp's namesake. 

The goal of the camp is to educate middle schoolers on many health care jobs. 

“I’m hoping that I make this fun enough where they realize they can have a job they love. And thankfully, even last year I had two campers who are now BayCare employees, and one is a nurse and one is currently a tech in nursing school. And they came to Camp Nurse Junior as children," said Megan Tartaglia, BayCare Nursing Professional Development practitioner.

They have learned a lot this week, from vital signs, CPR and lab and pathology. 

For Cronin, it has already inspired her to think about other careers beyond nursing. 

“I’m thinking about a pharmacy being a pharmacist, but I'm not sure yet. Maybe a nurse, maybe a pharmacist," said Cronin.

Students must apply to be in the camp. The application process usually opens in February for that year. Students are accepted on a first come, first served basis.