Vital Views

BONUS EPISODE ALERT! Nurse Camp 2022 is in the books, but how did we do? In our first of two interviews, we speak with a camper who traveled across the country just to participate. Then right after, we sit down with camp co-coordinator and UNLV Nursing Professor Jennifer Pfannes about what she enjoyed the most and the areas she wants to see improved.

Learn more about Nurse Camp at

Creators & Guests

Joseph Gaccione
Host, Writer, Producer
Jennifer Pfannes
Assistant Professor, UNLV School of Nursing

What is Vital Views?

Vital Views is a weekly podcast created by UNLV School of Nursing to discuss health care from a Rebel Nursing perspective. We share stories and expert information on both nursing-specific and broader healthcare topics to bring attention to the health trends and issues that affect us. New episodes every Tuesday.

Feedback? Questions? Episode Ideas? Email

Joe Gaccione 0:01
Greetings, and welcome to Vital Views, podcast for UNLV School of Nursing. I'm Joseph Gaccione, Communications Director for the School of Nursing. First aid, CPR, hospital tours, suturing. This is just a small list of activities nearly 60 high school students participated in this summer for UNLV Nurse Camp 2022. Since 2019, for one-week sessions, campers see what makes a nurse. Campers also get to talk to current nurses and UNLV nursing alumni about their experiences to get an inside track on how to build that nursing life. For a high school student, it has to be eye-opening to see what that world is like. Talking about her experience this year is Kimaria Samuel, who we're talking to on the phone. Kimaria attended our second nurse camp session this summer. She actually came all the way from Pennsylvania to attend camp here in Las Vegas. Kimaria, thanks for talking with us.

Kimaria Samuel 0:47
Thank you for having me.

Joe Gaccione 0:49
Not a problem. Now, as someone who helped market the camp, it was exciting to hear that you heard about it all the way on the east coast. Now, how exactly did you learn about Nurse Camp?

Kimaria Samuel 0:57
So, how I heard about it is I had family that originally is from and lived in Vegas. So, my grandmother, actually, she noticed that, or she knew that I wanted to become, you know, serious in learning about the nursing industry and just exploring. So, she sent me this, this paper that automatically caught my eye and I was like, “Oh yes, I want to do it,” because in Pittsburgh, we don't have anything like that out here, so it definitely caught my eye to try to reach out there and go and experience something new.

Joe Gaccione 1:29
So, now that you've completed your Nurse Camp experience, you've had a week, roughly, to process it. What did you think overall?

Kimaria Samuel 1:35
I felt good. I felt real informed, like, I felt like I learned a lot because I came in there not really knowing that much and I left with so much knowledge about different things, like how to apply to nursing school, what you need, what to look for, and just different stuff like that. So, I definitely felt really good about nursing camp.

Joe Gaccione 1:57
What was the most surprising part for you? Like, you might have had an idea of what nursing was like and then you go into camp and you're like, “Wow, I didn't know that much.”

Kimaria Samuel 2:05
Um, the hospital and experiencing code blue because, you know, you would see movies and stuff, but like, for you to be on the spot to like, witness it was pretty cool. And how nurses all work together like they are, they're a team and that really taught me and showed me like, how it really is going into the nursing industry and what to be prepared for as well.

Joe Gaccione 2:30
Would you say that was the most memorable part of camp for you or did you have another favorite part?

Kimaria Samuel 2:34
Um, yeah, I would say so. More like the hospital visit, because it happened when we were visiting the hospital, so another favorite part of mine was, uh, going into the NICU because that's kind of what I'm interested in as of right now.

Joe Gaccione 2:48
Okay. Now, where did the nursing interest start for you?

Kimaria Samuel 2:51
The nursing interest started off for me when I started noticing that I love helping people and I attend church, so I'll help, um, you know, volunteer with people who are older, and it kind of stood out to me that, “Okay, maybe I could see me being a nurse and helping others that need help.”

Joe Gaccione 3:12
Now, you mentioned you came out to Vegas, you live in Pennsylvania, so I'm gonna assume you didn't know anyone in your camp session. Did you get to make new friends along the way?

Kimaria Samuel 3:21
I didn't, but yes, I met really nice people.

Joe Gaccione 3:24
And you said before that NICU is, that's kind of the path that you want to go for in the future?

Kimaria Samuel 3:29
Yes. Yes. The, um, newborn NICU, or just pediatrics with kids.

Joe Gaccione 3:35
Do you interact with a lot of kids at church? Is that kind of where that interest starts?

Kimaria Samuel 3:38
I do. Yeah, I do. Yes. And I also work at Target and Chick-fil-A, so most of that I experience with little kids. I have a lot of cousins that are little, so, yeah.

Joe Gaccione 3:49
Okay. So, now along those lines of future plans, where do you go from here now that camp is over, and it sounds like you're very much still interested in nursing?

Kimaria Samuel 3:57
So, as of right now, I'm going into my senior year, so I'm looking at more schools as, as of right now, my choice is UNLV, but I still wanna go out there and search, uh, more schools. So, I'm focused on looking at more nursing schools and just preparing for a good senior year.

Joe Gaccione 4:16
For other high school students that might be interested or younger people that might be interested in becoming a nurse, but they might be on the fence, they're not sure about doing something like a Nurse Camp, what would your advice be to them?

Kimaria Samuel 4:27
My advice would be just do it because you never know if you'll regret it and it'll definitely teach you and inform you and let you know if that's something you really wanna do.

Joe Gaccione 4:36
Well, Kimaria, best of luck to you. Thank you for talking with us today and, and good luck in charting your nursing course.

Kimaria Samuel 4:41
Thank you so much for having me again. It was nice talking to you as well.

Joe Gaccione 4:45
Now that camp is done for 2022, it's time for reflection and seeing where this can grow. To talk about the Nurse Camp wrap-up, we are joined by Jennifer Pfannes, UNLV Nursing professor and camp co-coordinator this year. Jennifer, thanks for coming in.

Jennifer Pfannes 4:58
Thanks Joe, for having me.

Joe Gaccione 4:59
As a first-time camp co-coordinator, what was your take on how everything went this year?

Jennifer Pfannes 5:04
I think everything went fantastic. I really couldn't have asked for a smoother implementation of camp after, you know, the lot of time and effort that was put into the planning. I think the execution, um, from administrators, faculty, and campers, um, was very smooth, and I would say, overall, camp was an amazing experience.

Joe Gaccione 5:29
Now, something like this takes so much preparation behind the scenes. Was it more involved than you thought or was it about the same as you had expected it to be?

Jennifer Pfannes 5:36
It was definitely more involved than I thought or than I anticipated. And so, you know, our goal as camp co-directors was to provide a, a rich experience to the campers with a lot of different opportunities to learn about the profession of nursing. And so, to really be able to offer those experiences, it takes a lot of planning and a lot of that planning of the activities don't coincide with one another, so it's almost planning a lot of little events within a bigger event. And so, the, the outreach to planning the activities, coordinating all of the guests and volunteers that, you know, made camp successful, took a tremendous amount of time.

Joe Gaccione 6:21
And you and Shona Rue, who we previously had on here before, she's the other camp co-coordinator, that's a little tongue twister, you guys were part of a team, a Nurse Camp committee, so to speak, made up of a bunch of different people, so you didn't have all the responsibilities on your shoulders. But I do wanna talk about that outreach because you and Shona did a lot of outreach in our schools, letting students and faculty know about the camp. What was that experience like. when you're directly there talking to the students, talking to the faculty, and just having that face-to-face interaction about something like this?

Jennifer Pfannes 6:49
It was a great experience. I really enjoyed going out and talking with the high schoolers one-on-one, meeting the teachers at the schools. Um, I was very surprised when we were going out as to how much interest there was in the profession of nursing, but how little information was available to the high schoolers on kind of what it takes to be a nurse, what it takes to work in healthcare, or even just as simple as the path to get there. And so, it was, you know, talking with the high schoolers that maybe didn't end up coming to our nurse camp, but I think we were able to provide a lot of information and outreach and have one-on-one discussion with a lot of high schoolers from a lot of different schools here in our town. I think that, overall, was beneficial for the profession of nursing alone, aside from camp.

Joe Gaccione 7:43
Because it wasn't just handing out flyers and saying, “Hey, just take a look at this at your leisure.” It's actually planting the seed for healthcare.

Jennifer Pfannes 7:49
Correct. And just talking to them about the profession itself, you know, what, what can nurses do? What opportunities are there for nurses? There were a lot of comments when we were doing our outreach about they just know about nursing from TV and, you know, those of us that are nurses, we know that nursing is a lot more than what you see on TV, and there are a lot of opportunities within the profession. And so, the ability to not only talk about camp, but really just talk about nursing and how our school of nursing really embraces all of those unique opportunities was, was a lot of fun.

Joe Gaccione 8:24
When you're doing the outreach, and even through camp, what were some of those misconceptions that were debunked, so to speak? Like, did you notice any nursing myth where campers said, “Wow, I didn't know that was involved with nursing?”

Jennifer Pfannes 8:36
Yeah. One of the biggest things that surprised me that came out during actually some of our camp sessions, not, not necessarily in the outreach, but once the campers came to camp, they did not know that a nurse would go back to school for multiple degrees. Many of the campers didn't know that a nurse takes care of patients, or teaches, or does research outside of that bedside that you see on TV, right? We see the hospital and we see the clinic and we see a nurse and they just were kind of blown away at, you know, nurses that have gone back to graduate school who actually are scientists, who are teachers, who take care of people in the community, who do public health, just all of that stuff was surprising to them.

Joe Gaccione 9:21
During the camp, you're doing a lot of running around, you and Shona, trying to make sure the students are getting what they need, the campers are getting what they need, you're watching the student volunteers, you may be watching other volunteers, making sure they're doing what they should be doing. Did you ever have time just to take a moment or two, just take a beat and just watch how it's all going on?

Jennifer Pfannes 9:39
I didn't have a lot of time to take a moment or two, but I did, I did find little bits of time to just kind of stand back in the back of the classroom and just kinda watch them, watch what they were doing, watch their interactions.

Joe Gaccione 9:51
Was it enlightening? Was it inspiring?

Jennifer Pfannes 9:53
It was pretty eye-opening. It was really great to see them, they were, they were very much engaged in pretty much every activity during the weeklong camp. It was interesting to watch their reactions when they tried to do things that maybe they thought were pretty simple or easy and really how difficult it was. Also, to see their faces when they were talking to the nursing students and kind of some of the professionals, and it goes down the root of really what it takes to be a nurse. It's not an easy profession to get into, in terms of schooling. And so, it was really interesting to kind of just see their perspective on things.

Joe Gaccione 10:30
What were some of the activities that they thought would be pretty easy, but turned out to be a little more challenging?

Jennifer Pfannes 10:34
For the first few days of camp, we introduced them to a lot of what we would call basic nursing skills. And so, how to check vital signs, how to pass medications, some basics of sterile gloving, you know, incentive spirometer, or respiratory exercises, those are bed making, things like that, lifting patients, things that look pretty simple, that there really is an art to those skills. And a lot of the campers mentioned actually, there's a lot more than the skill itself, which as a nursing faculty, that's what you wanna hear. What's, what's the thought or rationale behind while you're, while you're doing something, how to do it? And so, some of those comments was, “Wow, when you demonstrated that it looked so easy. It's not that easy.”

Joe Gaccione 11:21
Would you say like, the vital signs were maybe the most important activity that the campers participated in because they could apply that outside of camp into like their daily lives or was there another activity you thought was just as important or more?

Jennifer Pfannes 11:33
Yeah, I think if we're looking at the activities that were related to skills, the, the hands-on skills pieces of camp, they really did enjoy the vital science piece and a couple did talk about how they've had the opportunity to take vital science outside of camp and so, whether that be on a family member who’s sick or we have several of them that volunteer that might assist with health fairs or things at their school. And so, they did really enjoy learning about the things that they could take away right now in terms of skills.

Joe Gaccione 12:05
All right. Time for the big question, the million-dollar question. What would you like to see in future Nurse Camps?

Jennifer Pfannes 12:10
One of the biggest things that we continued and grew a little bit with camp this year was the interaction with student nurses, with nursing faculty, and then also with our nursing members from the community. And so, yes, the campers loved all of the hands-on activities. They loved playing with the equipment and touching the things and working with the simulators and the manikins, but in terms of overall feedback, they really found a lot of value in having this kind of insight and ability to talk to either nursing students in the program or all of our community members that came to volunteer for our roundtable and really learning about what the profession of nurse nursing looks like, kind of, I think they were, on top of the skills piece, uh, they, they really valued learning about all the opportunities there are in nursing, and I would love to grow that piece a little bit more next year.

Joe Gaccione 13:09
Any new activities that you'd want to introduce that maybe we didn't feature this year?

Jennifer Pfannes 13:14
I think we had a pretty good lineup this year and I would continue, and I think there was value in, in almost all of the activities, I would like to, again, just kind of hone in a little bit more on the profession itself. There was a little bit of discussion on potentially, you know, learning a little bit more. There were a lot of questions about what it takes to get into nursing school, which is kind of the hot topic for high schoolers and providing that encouragement when they tell you, “Well, I'm not so good at math or science, but all I wanna do is be a nurse and so, how can I get there?” That's all you need, is math and science. And so, really, you know, how could we beef up some of that STEM-related discussion or opportunities being that these are high schoolers who are getting ready to come into college and kind of really help them understand why those prerequisites are so important for the profession.

Joe Gaccione 14:06
Well, Jennifer, that is all I have for you today. Thank you for coming in and talking with us.

Jennifer Pfannes 14:09
Thank you, Joe.

Joe Gaccione 14:10
Nurse Camp will return in 2023, and you can find more information on our nurse camp page at Again, that's Thanks for listening everybody, hope you have a great day.

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