For more than two decades, Native American and Alaska Native teenagers have headed to Washington State University in the summer to learn about careers in the health sciences. This year, 24 young women and men representing 20 tribal nations arrived on Sunday for 11 days of workshops, field trips, personal wellness and exercise sessions – all part of the Na-ha-shnee Native American Health Sciences Institute.
Sarah Burke once was one of those students. The member of the Lummi Nation, near Bellingham, attended Na-ha-shnee three times. She’s back as a counselor this summer, after finishing her first semester at the WSU College of Nursing. She wants to go on to get a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and become a Family Nurse Practitioner.
“I want to go back to my reservation and work at a clinic there,” she said.
Na-ha-shnee participants learn about careers in nursing, medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, physical therapy and more. They take classes in writing for college scholarships and in CPR. They learn yoga and Zumba, and take part in circle times, a talent show and counseling sessions.
Talon, 17, is a Na-ha-shnee camper for the second time. He wants to be a biomedical engineer, and said the camp has been “a great experience to learn more about the medical field and what we need to do to get to our goal.”
Auriel, 15, wants to be a pediatric nurse or nurse anesthetist. She also is a second-time participant.
Emma Noyes, Interim Director of Native American Health Sciences at WSU, said there are many success stories of campers going on to careers in the health sciences.
The Native American Health Sciences Institute is paid for by sponsors, so participants arrange only for transportation to and from WSU Spokane. The program is open to Native American and Alaska Native students in the 9th-11th grades, who have a GPA of 3.0 or above and an interest in health sciences as a profession.
Noyes said Native American communities in both rural and urban areas are facing health-provider workforce shortages. “Na-ha-shnee aims to inspire the Native American health leaders of the future, who will be committed to improving health and wellness in high-need areas,” she said.
See WSU Spokane staff photographer Cori Kogan’s images of the event on flickr.
Thank you to our generous sponsors:
WSU College of Nursing Trude Smith Endowment; WSU College of Medicine; Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; Snoqualmie Tribe; David and Dorothy Pierce Trust; Tulalip Tribes; STCU; Numerica Credit Union; Wells Fargo; and the Kalispel Tribe of Indians Camas Path Behavioral Health Program and Camas Center Recreation & Fitness Program.
- Addy Hatch, WSU College of Nursing