R.E.A.C.H. Program Brings Troy HS Students to Cabinet Peaks Medical Center

October 22, 2014

MISSOULA – Cabinet Peaks Medical Center will host 35 Troy High School and Libby High School sophomores on Friday, Oct. 24. The students, who are participating in a R.E.A.C.H. program, will experience firsthand what health professionals encounter. 

R.E.A.C.H., which stands for Research and Explore Awesome Careers in Healthcare, was developed in 2007 by the Montana Area Health Education Center. The Western Montana AHEC R.E.A.C.H. program provides an opportunity for students to have hands-on exposure to the latest equipment, practices and procedures in the health care industry.

Students will participate in a full day of activities at Cabinet Peaks and interact with health care professionals in departments including surgery, rehabilitation services, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, laboratory and imaging.

According to Martha Robertson, Western Montana AHEC K-12 program coordinator, the health care workforce in Montana is a key component to the economic viability of the state, as well as a vital factor in sustaining the health of Montana’s rural communities. 

“The Montana Department of Labor and Industry predicts health care occupations in Montana are expected to grow by a combined 1,300 jobs per year,” Robertson said. “It’s the fastest occupational job growth exiting the recession.” 

To fill positions and meet this need, programs such as R.E.A.C.H. have been developed to give students early exposure to the health care industry and the many health care career choices available.

The R.E.A.C.H. program is being funded in part by GEAR UP Montana. GEAR UP Montana serves seventh- through12th-grade students at 18 middle schools and their receiving high schools to improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates. 

The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Montana Office of Commissioner of Higher Education a seven-year, $28 million GEAR UP grant in September 2011. GEAR UP Montana partners with Western Montana AHEC to increase students’ college and career readiness through academic preparedness.

R.E.A.C.H. is one of several K-12 pipeline programs that Montana AHEC provides to schools and communities throughout the state. The pipeline programs fulfill a portion of Montana AHEC’s mission to connect students to careers, professionals and communities to better health.

Western Montana AHEC, located on the University of Montana campus, coordinates R.E.A.C.H. programs at hospitals throughout the seven-county western region of Montana. There are five Montana AHEC regional offices: Western Montana AHEC in Missoula; North Central Montana AHEC and South Central Montana AHEC housed in Helena; Eastern Montana AHEC in Billings; Southeastern Montana AHEC in Miles City; and the AHEC program office in Bozeman. 

For more information on R.E.A.C.H. programs call Robertson at 406-243-4746 or email martha.robertson@mso.umt.edu. For more information about students visiting Cabinet Peaks Medical Center call Erin Leighty, human resources generalist, at 406-283-7168.

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Contact: Erin Leighty, human resources generalist, Cabinet Peaks Medical Center, 406-283-7168, ; Martha Robertson, K-12 program coordinator, Western Montana Area Health Education Center at UM, 406-243-4746, martha.robertson@mso.umt.edu.