The teenagers in maroon scrubs and ID badges surrounded the patient who lay, blinking his eyes, on the gurney.

"He's going to make it or not depending on what you guys do today," their instructor bellowed.

The patient, SimMan, was a highly lifelike dummy used to train aspiring health care workers how to treat medical emergencies.

On Tuesday his fate was in the hands of about 70 high school students from Minneapolis and St. Paul. They came to the Augsburg College campus in Minneapolis this week to participate in the first-ever urban version of Scrubs Camp.

Organizers say their mission is twofold: to encourage more students to consider health care careers and to expose them to college life.

HealthForce Minnesota, a coalition of education, industry and community partners created to swell the ranks of health care workers, started Scrubs Camp two years ago at Winona State University.

This year, HealthForce teamed up with the Cedar-Riverside Partnership, a neighborhood coalition, to offer the camp to inner-city kids.

"We're trying to shape their notion of a future," said Paul Pribbenow, president of Augsburg and chairman of the Cedar-Riverside Partnership. "It's an intensive opportunity to begin to imagine yourselves being able to follow a certain path to a job."

Since Sunday the students have been living in the residence halls, dining in the cafeteria and attending classes. Sessions included "DNA in Action" and "Anatomy in Clay."

The campers also toured the University of Minnesota campus and traveled to Fort Snelling State Park, where they learned about performing first aid in the wilderness.

Mohamed Mohamed, 15, who lives in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, said before he attended the camp, he was thinking about becoming an engineer. After seeing the College of Biological Sciences building at the university, however, he's changed his mind. He says he's now contemplating a health career.

Mohamed, a Somali refugee who would be the first in his family to go to college, was one of about 20 to 25 students from the neighborhood who signed up for the camp. The Cedar-Riverside area is home to thousands of East African immigrants, mainly Somali refugees and their children.

Steering kids on right path

Helping area youths stay out of trouble and secure their future was one of the main goals Cedar-Riverside Partnership leaders had when they approached HealthForce Minnesota about starting Scrubs Camp at Augsburg.

Partnership leaders, concerned about young people dropping out of high school or getting caught up in gangs, wanted to find a way to get more neighborhood youth on a successful and safe path. Augsburg officials offered to pay the camp fee for students living in the neighborhood.

Pribbenow said he was pleased with the number of neighborhood youths involved in the camp this year.

"We know a lot of it is getting that first experience," he said. "They'll go back and tell their friends. A lot of it is knowing you have to build that trust with the families in the neighborhood. This is a long-term commitment."

Several of the campers came from the Brian Coyle Center's youth programs, said the center's youth director, Abdirahman Mukhtar.

So many of the kids would be the first ones in their family to attend college, he said.

"Here, they're learning about their options for higher education," he said.

Back in the nursing simulation class, the campers frantically worked to revive SimMan, who, they learned, had suffered a heart attack. They checked his pulse, gave him oxygen, inserted a breathing tube down his throat and administered CPR.

When the nearby heart monitor showed his heart rate was back to normal, the students exhaled. One girl clapped.

"Congratulations," their instructor, Ron Flannigan, told them. "You saved a life today."

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488