A Pediatrics Resident works at Camp!

My name is Jonathan Uhl. I am a third year pediatric resident at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. I worked for two weeks at Camp Androscoggin under the preceptorship of Dr. Jill Baren. This experience proved to be among the most valuable of my residency training so far. It reinvigorated my interest in primary care through exposure to primary care in one of its purest forms, and offered a unique perspective on the developmental trajectories of healthy children.

I became interested in camp doctoring during my second year of residency. With no initial leads, I searched Google for opportunities in camp medicine, stumbled upon Camp Health Consulting, and eventually made contact with Dr. Jill Baren who offered to take me under her wing at camp. I drafted a rotation proposal and set of goals, which my residency program’s academic office approved. 

My clinical responsibilities at camp were fairly consistent day to day. I worked closely with Dr. Baren, camp nurses, and athletic trainers. There were two “sick calls” per day—after breakfast and after dinner—during which campers and staff presented with new complaints or for planned follow-up visits. In addition, athletic trainers saw patients three afternoons per week, managing sports-related injuries such as ankle sprains and patellar dislocations. I was an active learner and participant during these sessions, especially in helping campers with their physical therapy exercises. The camp infirmary housed patients who were admitted during sick-call hours, or by the on-call nurse overnight. Inpatient rounds consisted of bringing the sick campers into the exam room one by one to reassess their dispositions.  

Working in the camp infirmary was a challenging and refreshing departure from acute care pediatrics. Aside from sick call and athletic training sessions, I was not obligated to be in the infirmary. I was free to canoe, play basketball, or explore central Maine. But some of camp’s most valuable experiences took place when I stuck around. I splinted fingers, exchanged clinical tips and anecdotes with the nurses, and got a glimpse inside a rich camp culture built by a community of thriving children. I saw children make friends, outgrow their shoes, and learn to advocate for their own health. Working as a camp doctor is an experience I encourage all pediatric residents to pursue.