Scrubs Camp makes a difference

By Ron Burtz

High school students practice suturing and giving injections on chicken legs at the 2018 Custer Scrubs Camp. This year’s camp is set for March 2 at the Armory. Use the My Black Hills Country App on your smart phone to scan this photo to see a short overview from organizer Dr. Joy Falkenburg and for more information about preregistration.

Scrubs Camp returns to the Custer Armory for a third year on Saturday, March 2. Dr. Joy Falkenburg, one of the organizers, urges interested high school students to register early to secure a spot. 

Falkenburg says the day-long healthcare training camp accepts only 60 students and filled up last year. 

“We’ve been within four students of being full every year,” she said. 

The secret of attracting students to the event appears to be the fact that it gives them a hands-on experience of what it is like to work in the healthcare field.

“Nobody sits and just listens,” said Falkenburg. “We’re all doing activities all day. Sometimes we do things like suturing (using chicken legs), sometimes we do nursing activities like trauma or we worked with a set of pig lungs last year where they could see how the lungs work and inflate and what happens during trauma.”

Falkenburg said Regional Health’s simulation truck will also be on hand to give students a real-time experience of treating a trauma patient. Physical and occupational therapy were demonstrated in previous years when there has been a focus on radiology. 

In addition to suturing, Falkenburg says students get hands-on experience with such procedures as doing punch biopsies and cutting with a knife that uses electricity. 

“It’s a lot easier to be interested in something when you’re physically doing it than when you’re just listening,” said Falkenburg, adding “that’s a big draw for teenage kids.” 

“We want to create a rural pipeline,” said Falkenburg. “We want kids from this part of the country to know they can get into the healthcare field and come back locally and get jobs.”

Falkenburg says healthcare is an excellent field to move into right now because, with the aging of the Baby Boomers, it’s a growing industry. 

“We know that we’ve got a big bubble of older people who are going to need taken care of,” she said. 

Students interested in Scrubs Camp can get more information and stay updated by viewing and liking the “Custer Scrubs Camp” Facebook page. They can also visit 

The camp will start at 8 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. There will be breakfast foods available and pizza will be served for lunch. 

Is Scrubs Camp making a difference in attracting young people into healthcare professions?

According to Falkenburg it is. 

“After the first year, I was at a country music concert,” said Falkenburg, “and this girl said, ‘Hey, you were the doctor who taught Scrubs Camp!’” 

The young woman said she was studying to be a nurse and her friend was going into radiology. Furthermore, they said attending the camp had dramatically influenced their career decisions.