TAHLEQUAH – On May 31 and June 1, students from all over Oklahoma and some as far as Texas and Arkansas attended the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah to participate in the “Operation Orange” camp.
Entering its 10th year, the camp was offered to high school and high school students alike and gave them the chance to get a glimpse into the life of a medical student and learn CPR techniques such as chest compressions.
Dylan Tucker, OSU Center for Health Sciences high school outreach coordinator and Cherokee Nation citizen, said this is the second time the camp has been held on the Tahlequah campus.
“So we’re pretty excited about it,” she said. “This is the first time that they (the students) have been allowed to do a simulation case study on one of our state-of-the-art mannequins. We’re pretty excited about that, and introducing it on the 10th anniversary just seemed right. But it’s also an opportunity for them to see this beautiful campus that we have in partnership with Cherokee Nation.”
Aside from working with the “high-fidelity mannequins,” said Dr. Natasha Bray, interim dean of OSU-COM, that students also had the opportunity to learn intubation and see what real human organs look like.
“It’s an opportunity to participate in a way they don’t get when they’re in school,” she said. “They can use the things they’ve learned in their health classes, in their science classes, and they can see how we can use advanced technology to help them turn that knowledge into practical, applicable things that really get them excited.”
Run by 25 medical students from both the Tahlequah and Tulsa OSU campuses, the camp was set up in stations spread across the Tahlequah campus. Bray said helping medical students teach a “near peer” experience.
“That narrow age range allows students to really bond and ask questions and see people who are like them,” she said, “who can be in medical school and be successful, which inspires these high school students to really think about how they be successful in their careers.”
One student who attended was Zoey Kelly, a junior at Kansas High School in Kansas, Oklahoma. Kelly, who is a CN citizen, said this was her first year attending the camp and it was something she wanted to explore before taking VO-tech medical classes in the fall.
“I learned a lot of things about organs and a lot of things I really didn’t know — things I’d like to know before I go in, so I don’t just dive over,” she said.
Another student who attended was Anna Fletcher, a junior at Inola High School. Fletcher, who is seeking a career in mental health or as an OB-GYN, said the camp offers a “hands-on” experience and would recommend it to others looking to explore the medical field.
“(I would) probably tell them that if they want a hands-on medical experience, this is probably the best place to go because you can ask all these questions and not feel like you’re being judged,” Fletcher says, a CN citizen, said.
Bray said the camp at OSU’s Tahlequah campus is important because Native Americans are often “underrepresented in medicine.”
“We know that Native Americans, Cherokee citizens, are underrepresented in medicine. So to have this campus on tribal land adjacent to WW Hastings at the Cherokee Nation Outpatient Health Center really allows us to bring traditional culture into medical education,” she said.
Each year, “Operation Orange” camp runs at locations throughout Oklahoma during the first two weeks of June. For more information, visit okla.st/OpOrange.