Vanessa Runo has wanted to pursue a medical career since she was 5 years old and living in Nairobi, Kenya.
The soon-to-be-senior at Bellarmine Preparatory School got a little closer to her goal Thursday at the MultiCare Nurse Camp in Tacoma.
Runo moved to the United States with her mother 10 years ago in pursuit of better educational opportunities. She said she found the culture here less family-oriented than in Kenya, but she’s happy to have the opportunity to pursue her dreams.
She has an interest in pediatric health care that stems from watching her niece struggle with seizures.
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“Children aren’t supposed to be sick,” she said. Runo wants to make the healing process easy for both parents and patients and says compassion is the best trait a doctor can have.
Doctors, she said, “do their normal check-ups, and it’s not anyone’s business what the patient is going through in their life. .But it’s good to know what’s going on with them because it could be tied to their condition.”
Television shows such as “House” and “NY Med” have fueled her aspiration to be in a hospital, she said. Participating in Nurse Camp is allowing her to get a taste of that life.
Runo is one of 107 high school students from the South Sound area participating in Nurse Camp, its largest class since it began 11 years ago, said Cara Koch, program coordinator for MultiCare Center for Healthy Living.
Runo’s application stood out to Koch because of her unique background growing up in Nairobi, she said.
“She speaks Swahili and was able to articulate her sensitivity to different cultures,” Koch said. “She can communicate with patients so they would trust her as a nurse.”
Nurse Camp students performed multiple job shadows and simulated emergency situations where they had to respond the way a nurse would, Koch said.
Runo’s favorite part was shadowing a pediatrician in the emergency room, she said.
“You can tell she loved what she did and I admire her for that,” Runo said.
Nurse Camp students will walk away with 40 hours of in-hospital experience and a certificate of completion after a ceremony Friday (July 25) at Stadium High School.
Runo said she would like to attend San Diego State University or Saint Mary’s College of California. Her hope is to practice medicine in the United States.
“It’s a lot of years (of schooling) ahead, but it’s worth it,” Runo said.