High School Students Explore Health Careers at MedStart Camp at UM

June 11, 2015

MISSOULA – Two dozen high school juniors and seniors from across Montana will explore health care careers during the annual Missoula MedStart camp Sunday through Thursday, June 14-18, on the University of Montana campus.

Sponsored by the Western Montana Area Health Education Center at UM, MedStart is a weeklong immersion program designed for potential first-generation college students from rural areas who plan to pursue careers in the health sciences.

A highlight of the program this year will be a dinner with residents of Village Senior Residence on Wednesday, June 17. Participants will have a chance to learn about first dates, first cars and more from what young students perceive as the “old days” of the mid-1900s.

“We really look forward to the students’ visit,” said Kathryn Beaty, Village Senior Residence executive director. “We know it will be mutually beneficial – we learn so much from generation to generation. To have the young people here allows our residents to learn about all sorts of new things.”

Martha Robertson, Western Montana AHEC program coordinator, said the visit will give the future health care workforce a closer look at senior care in Montana, a sector that continues to grow as the state’s population ages.

Other activities will include tours of Rocky Mountain Laboratories and GlaxoSmithKline in Hamilton; a day of symposiums in chemistry, medical technology, environmental health, social work and psychology at UM; animal organ dissections led by neuroscience graduate students and medical residents of the Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana; a full day of job shadows at 12 different facilities in Missoula; a wilderness first-aid seminar hosted by Aerie Backcountry Medicine; and college readiness and financial aid seminars.

Missoula MedStart is one of four annual MedStart programs hosted by Montana AHEC. Other host sites include Billings, Butte and Great Falls. Since 2007, the Montana AHEC offices have offered MedStart summer camps to provide local high school students who may not otherwise have the opportunity a chance to explore health careers, learn about college life and realize the possibilities of pursuing higher education. The goal is to provide students with the support and resources needed to enter and succeed in the health care industry. Since 2012, 75 students have attended Missoula MedStart; of the 68 seniors who completed the program, 94 percent enrolled in college.

As communities across Montana continue to struggle with creating and sustaining an adequate health care professional workforce, the Montana AHECs continue to address the shortages through a “grow your own” approach. This approach focuses on attracting, educating and training students from high-need areas with the goal of having them return to these areas to practice. 

Missoula MedStart is made possible through contributions and support from the Frontier Medicine Better Health Partnership, Montana GEAR UP, Salish Kootenai College, PacificSource Health Plans, Providence Health & Services, Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Clark Fork Valley Hospital, St. Luke Community Healthcare and Elks Lodge No. 2231 in Libby.

Western Montana AHEC is a not-for-profit organization funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration. It operates as part of the UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences.

For more information call Robertson at 406-243-4746 or email martha.robertson@mso.umt.edu

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