By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The desire to pursue medical school can be one of the most difficult, competitive, and financially prohibitive decisions a student can make. Even the most gifted can find themselves struggling to succeed in the brutal environment that faces prospective medical students.
This tireless struggle is the inspiration behind Focus on Children Now’s CampMed program. The three-day, two-night camp is held annually in Griffith Park to provide distinguished students with an interest in the medical field information, training and financial support to ease the burden of medical school.
The camp is held at no cost to attendees by the organization Focus on Children Now, a non-profit organization primarily focused on eradicating child poverty worldwide. The second annual program took place at Griffith Park this year from April 4-6.
Participating students take part in various workshops designed to provide hands-on experience and a glimpse into the realities of the medical field. The lessons include suturing, CPR training and phlebotomy as well as team building and leadership training.
Attending students are also provided with information and workshops to ease the college application process. Counselors answer questions about schools, financial aid and class requirements, and provide career panel discussions with people in the healthcare industry.
Reduced to simple terms, the FCN CampMed program represents a dedicated effort to provide opportunity to those who may be interested in the medical field but face obstacles that may put higher education out of reach.
“As opposed to generations of the past, high school graduates today are unable to obtain the number of high-paying jobs that were once available,” said FCN President Karine Aboolian. “The U.S. has been transformed from a manufacturing-based economy to an economy based on knowledge, and the importance of a college education today can be compared to that of a high school education 40 years ago. It serves as the gateway to better options and more opportunity.”
The camp was inspired by a similar program started by the University of California, Irvine. Several pre-medical students took part in the program and took it upon themselves to implement a similar organization in Los Angeles County in an effort to expand interest and opportunity in the medical field.
While last year’s camp partnered with Birmingham High School, this year the program added La Crescenta’s Clark Magnet High School. Students were chosen based on an application that is submitted to the CampMed board that then works with a school representative to select an ideal candidate. Student goals, application credentials and level of interest are all considered in the selection process.
The attendees are also put into a position to enjoy continued success after the camp’s conclusion with a mentorship program that ensures long-term success that will guide interested students through the application process.
“The last day of camp, the students are paired with a counselor,” explained Aboolian. “The counselors make themselves available via email or Facebook to answer any question or [give] any help the student needs with not only succeeding while completing high school but also with college- applications, acceptance and college related questions.”
Funding for the program is provided through a combination of grant money, raffles and the sales of pizza cards by FCN CampMed directors and volunteers.
Bikes4Orphans, another local non-profit organization that was founded by local students, is also a part of Focus on Children Now’s education program. Bikes4Orphans raised tens of thousands of dollars to provide transportation to in-need children throughout Africa and Armenia.
For more information about the CampMed program or Focus on Children Now, visit www.focusonchildrennow.org.