Estes Park Health hosts 9th High School Sports Medicine Academy

EPH inspires the next generation of healthcare professionals

The scenario at Estes Park High School on February 9 was something that could easily happen in real life. Two students collide in the gym and sustain injuries that require a trip to Estes Park Health.

A select group of Sport Medicine students from the school posed as patients and rode in ambulances to the hospital where they and their teammates were able to experience first-hand what happens when an injured person is brought to the emergency department.

“I always had a really big interest in being in the medical field ever since I was really, really little,” said junior Sophie Kamprath. “My mom and I were looking back on it and I found out that when I was in fifth grade I said that when I grew up I wanted to be an anesthesiologist. And I still want to be an anesthesiologist. This day is cool because it gives me a good perspective about what my day-to-day life would be if I decided to go into this field, whether it be an EMT or an orthopedic surgeon or an anesthesiologist.”

Estes Park Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Aaron Florence heads up the Sport Medicine Academy which he modeled after a program he witnessed while completing a sports medicine fellowship in Lake Tahoe.

“I wanted to emulate the program when I moved here to Estes Park,” Dr. Florence said. “A lot of people got together to make it happen. This is the injury simulation day. They get to go through every department in the hospital involved in an injury and they get to see all these different professionals working in their environments. The kids get to see what it would be like to be a physical therapist, what it would be like to be a nurse or an emergency room doctor. It gives the kids a great first-hand look at these different professions.”

While showing the students an MRI in a trauma room in the emergency department, Dr. Florence conducted an interactive lesson that captured the kids’ attention.

“What do you think this thing is up by the knee,” he asked. “That’s the patella, yeah. The ACL is right here in the front and guess what? This patient has a torn ACL.”

Estes Park High School teacher Pam Frey said her students have either taken Anatomy & Physiology or they are taking the class now to quality for this special course.

“Within the last month I have heard back from two kids who were in this program,” Frey noted. “One just got accepted to medical school and the other one is going to Purdue for athletic training. That student wrote an email saying this class is part of what inspired her to pursue her career path. I think it’s a great perspective for kids to see so many opportunities are out there. You only know what you see. This gives them an opportunity to see how wide their opportunities in the medical profession are if they choose to do that.”

Dr. Florence said some of the students involved in the Sport Medicine Academy over the last nine sessions have gone on to various medical professions.

“We have students who have graduated from Estes Park High School who have taken this class who are orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, physical therapists, nurses, paramedics, radiology technicians,” Dr. Florence pointed out. “They really are ripe at this age and their brains are just bursting for more information.”

Junior Austin Tice’s father is a nurse who has shared stories about his field that intrigue Austin. He was one of the students posing with an injury.

“My ankle was supposed to be broken and I had a torn ACL,” Austin explained. “It was cool to see how I would be treated as a patient and what paramedics would be doing to help me get to the hospital. It’s great that the school offers this because out of school I would never be able to go in an ambulance and learn about that side of health care.”

Besides the emergency department, students also visit areas including diagnostic imaging, the operating room, the medical/surgical unit and physical therapy.

Over the years, demand for the sports medicine class and this on-site experience has grown.

“This is a luxury we have in a small town where we can do something like this,” Dr. Florence pointed out. “We have people who are willing and able to pass the torch to the next generation of healthcare providers.”