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sHaPe Camp introduces local teens to health professions

  • Students learning about human anatomy and physiology during sHaPe Camp.
  • A camper is fitted for a dosimetry cage, which is used for immobilizing a patient during radiation therapy
  • A Grand Valley nursing student helps campers analyze lung sounds during a nursing workshop.
  • A Grand Valley nursing student (left) teaches campers how to measure vital signs
  • Campers testing their balance during a physical therapy workshop.
  • Students measureing range of motion during a physical therapy workshop.

Posted on July 24, 2017

Teenagers in West Michigan worked with radiation beams, and 3-D imaging and medical laboratory equipment as they explored careers in the health professions field during Grand Valley’s Summer Health Activities and Professions Exploration (sHaPe) Camp.

sHaPe Camp, designed for students entering eighth or ninth grade, took place July 17-20 at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, located on the Medical Mile on Michigan Street in downtown Grand Rapids. The camp is sponsored by Grand Valley’s College of Health Professions and Regional Math and Science Center (RMSC).

During this year’s camp, participants explored the professions of medical laboratory science, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, public health, radiation therapy, sonography, sports medicine and therapeutic recreation.

Campers were additionally introduced to medical dosimetry, which is in the field of radiation medicine where professionals plan and design effective radiation therapy procedures for individual patients, and perform radiation-related biomedical research.

Grand Valley’s medical dosimetry master’s program is currently one of only five graduate dosimetry programs in the U.S., and the only one in Michigan.

Ranelle Brew, camp co-director and Department of Public Health chair, said sHaPe Camp fills an important need in the local community.

“Our main goals with sHaPe Camp are to encourage and inspire students to consider attending college, as many students are coming from first-generation backgrounds, and to use the camp as a pipeline effort for increasing diversity in the health professions,” she said. “Attending this camp leaves students with a broad spectrum of fields to consider as they make important decisions about college and their future."

In addition to participating in various hands-on workshops, campers also took a field trip to the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus on July 19.

“Our field trip to the hospital served as an opportunity to expose campers to additional health fields and to a range of educational requirements, from associate degrees to doctoral training,” said Brew. “Our hope is that campers learned that there is a spot for everyone in health professions.”

The annual camp is directed and taught by Grand Valley faculty and staff from the College of Health Professions, Kirkhof College of Nursing and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Students are generally exposed to a select few careers in health professions,” said Kristofer Pachla, Regional Math and Science Center director. “Exploration of a variety of career options helps students see a path that may be right for them, and help fill a regional workforce need.”

For more information about sHaPe Camp, visit