Western Montana High School Students to Spend Week Exploring Health Care Fields

June 20, 2014

MISSOULA – Twenty-six western Montana high school juniors and seniors have been selected to take part in Missoula MedStart: An Exploration of HealthCare Careers, which will take place Sunday through Friday, June 22-27, on the University of Montana campus.

Activities during camp will include tours of GlaxoSmithKline and Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, a full day of job shadowing at 12 local health care facilities and an overnight at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo.

Participants also will hear presentations from professionals on the UM campus, including from Laboratory Animal Resources, the biochemistry and anthropology programs, the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the psychology and social work departments, Missoula College, Enrollment Services, the Undergraduate Advising Center and Financial Aid office. Scientific dissection and experimental sessions will be led by UM graduate students and new Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana residents.

During the two overnight sessions in Pablo, which are coordinated by SKC faculty member Heather Paulsen, students will explore Native herbal remedies, attend a presentation by Lake County Search & Rescue, participate in Native cultural games and attend SKC medical and dental simulation sessions. The two-day program will conclude with a tour of St. Luke Community Healthcare. The SKC MedStart special sessions are made possible through a SKC School of Nursing, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and Indian Health Services workforce development grant.

Montana Area Health Education Center and MHA: An Association of Healthcare Providers host three one-week MedStart programs every year on the UM campus, on the Great Falls College campus and at Montana State University-Billings. Each spring, applicants are selected based on academic achievement, teacher recommendations and their interest in pursuing a career in the health care field. First-generation college students and those from rural areas are encouraged to apply.

MedStart began at MSU-Bozeman, in 2004, as “U-Doc,” a program which initially hosted 10 students. Montana, and the nation as a whole, is facing a health care workforce shortage. To develop the next generation of health care professionals, the Montana AHEC system organized the MedStart summer program as one way to foster students’ interest in pursuing careers in health care.

The goal is to provide students with the support and resources needed to enter and succeed in the health care industry, thereby, ultimately addressing Montana’s health care workforce shortage. MedStart prepares students for careers in health care, which shows the fastest occupational job growth in Montana, provides access to Montana University System financial aid resources, promotes prebaccalaureate degrees allowing for ready entry into the health care field, and fuels the economic viability of rural Montana.

This year, 73 students will attend Montana MedStart programs, 62 of whom were selected for scholarships. Scholarships to the 2014 program were made possible through GEAR UP Montana, Jobs for Montana Graduates, Montana Educational Talent Search, Frontier Medicine Better Health Partnership, Pacific Source, The Washington Foundation, ALPS, Providence Health & Services, Community Medical Center, Clark Fork Valley Hospital and Gardiner Public Schools.

For more information call Western Montana AHEC K-12 Program Coordinator Martha Robertson at 406-243-4746 or email martha.robertson@mso.umt.edu.

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Contact: Martha Robertson, K-12 program coordinator, Western Montana Area Health Education Center at UM, 406-243-4746, martha.robertson@mso.umt.edu.