Posted inHealth

This summer camp is about more than having fun — it’s encouraging Latino children to become doctors

An arm shot up to raise an orange cone in the air. 

Students rushed toward a row of the same colored cones. Sounds of their feet shuffling across the floor filled a room at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth. 

The fun activity was a way for students to learn about their cardiovascular system at the Latinos en Medicina Camp, a program held in early June to introduce children to various health care careers and begin to diversify the medical field.

Analise Arredondo, 12, was one of the students running for a cone. She attended the summer camp last year and was hooked on health care.

“I love learning about all the types of doctors that I could be,” Analise said.

The program featured professions like doctors, physician assistants, pharmacists and physical therapists. The different career possibilities shown at the camp have inspired new dreams for Analise. 

“I wanted to be a dancer, but now, with the doctor stuff here, it has made me think that I could be a doctor for dancers,” she said. 

‘It’s doable for them’

The kind of influence the program has had on Analise is exactly why Lorena Marin, one of the event’s organizers, wanted to start the camp in the first place.

“I want kids to be excited and to dream about being whatever it is they want to be in the medical field,” she said.

Lorena Marin, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine assistant director of admissions and Latinos en Medicina Camp organizer, poses in the activity room at Latinos en Medicina Camp on June 9, 2023, in Fort Worth. (Sara Honda | Fort Worth Report)

Marin was concerned that an underrepresentation of Latinos in health care professions may affect the children. She didn’t want them to label medical careers as unachievable dreams. 

“I wanted them to look at the possibilities and see the faces that are leading out and know it’s doable for them,” she said. 

Wanting to inspire kids is why Physical Therapy Day began with a six-minute slideshow of Latino health care professionals. The video encouraged kids to serve the community by pursuing a career in the medical field. 

The rest of the day included a video-guided workbook about understanding pain, a rotation of hands-on activities and a guest speaker who shared his physical therapy experience after having a stroke. 

Creating a solution for the community

Latinos en Medicina Camp hopes to address another concern by introducing kids to the medical world: Who can the Latino community trust in the hospitals?

Karyna Valencia, a second-year physical therapy student, believes the camp is building the future generation of health care professionals for the Latino community. She returned as a volunteer this year because she felt that there was still work to be done. 

“These are the children who are going to be taking care of me in the future, and my grandparents need someone now who looks like them,” she said. “Unfortunately, when they go to the hospitals, they don’t see that yet.”

Karyna Valencia, a second-year physical therapy student, poses in a hallway at The University of North Texas Health Science Center on June 9, 2023, in Fort Worth. (Sara Honda | Fort Worth Report)

Valencia believes it is crucial for Latino patients to have health care professionals who understand their culture and speak their language. The camp is a first step toward diversifying health care. 

In Texas, Latinos make up nearly 40% of the population, but fewer than 10% of primary care physicians are Latino, according to the Health Science Center. 

“I hope that with the kids that are coming to this camp, they become the next faces of care that Latino communities will be able to trust when they have to go to the hospital,” she said. 

The kids hope to be the future, too.

Isabella Rodriguez, 12, attended the program to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. Her favorite part of the camp was learning about ultrasound and touching real human heart and lungs — with gloves, of course. 

She left the camp with a dream to pursue: becoming a doctor or something like that, she said. 

Isabella plans to return next year to continue working towards her newly found goal.

“After this week, I’m starting to think this stuff is pretty cool,” she said. 

Sara Honda is the audience engagement and social media fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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