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Health Career K-12 Pipeline Programs
Montana, and the nation as a whole, are facing a healthcare workforce shortage. There are not enough healthcare providers to support the growing, aging population, and healthcare reform will put further demands on the system. It is estimated that 2.4 million new healthcare jobs will be open by 2014. To fill these positions, we need to begin building “the pipeline” - a group of students across the nation with plans to enter into healthcare careers. Exposure to health careers must begin early in the educational experience, and students need opportunities to make them aware of the many attractive career choices available.
In 2006, the Montana Area Health Education Center and the Montana Office of Public Instruction teamed up to address the looming healthcare workforce shortage. Many innovative and vital programs have emerged or been strengthened via this partnership.
Secondary Pipeline Programs
Health Science Education Programs in MT High Schools
Over the past decade, there has been a national movement towards the use of ‘career clusters’ in K-12 education. Career clusters allow for the development of curricular frameworks designed to prepare students for a successful transition from high school to postsecondary education, employment in a career area or both. The U.S. Department of Education has identified 16 distinct career clusters, including the health sciences career cluster. This particular career cluster prepares students for education and/or immediate employment in the healthcare field and encompasses over 200 health science related occupations.
School districts have begun to implement health science education programs in high schools across the state of Montana. The mission of Health Science Education is to prepare students for successful careers by building a solid foundation of the required knowledge and skills that lead to careers in therapeutic services, diagnostic services, health informatics, support services or biotechnology.
For more information:
Renee Harris, Health Sciences Education Specialist
Online Exploration of Health Careers
The course, “Health Occupations” is available online through the Montana Digital Academy. This is a semester-long, asynchronous course, taught by an endorsed health science instructor exposing students to the variety of opportunities available within the healthcare industry.
MT Digital Academy Website:
HOSA - Future Health Professionals
HOSA - Future Health Professionals, was first conceived by six charter states in 1975 and officially organized in 1976. Since its inception, HOSA has grown from just six charter states and roughly 6000 members to forty-seven chartered states and over 150,000 members.
The HOSA mission statement:
"The mission of HOSA is to enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill, and leadership development of all health science technology education students, therefore, helping students to meet the needs of the health care community."
Detailed information regarding HOSA can be found HERE
Megan Bones, State HOSA Advisor
Research and Explore Awesome Careers in Healthcare
Research and Explore Awesome Careers in Healthcare (REACH) began in 2009 and took place at two beta sites: Ruby Valley Hospital in Sheridan, MT and Granite County Medical Center in Philipsburg, MT. The Ruby Valley Hospital program had twenty-two total participants, while the Granite County Medical Center program had thirty-one total participants. Since that time, REACH has grown and expanded into facilities and communities across the state of Montana.
The purpose of REACH is to provide Montana high school students with a chance to learn about the healthcare field by offering them an opportunity to explore and experience various healthcare careers. The aim of the program, through hands-on stations and activities, is to encourage the next generation of youth to choose fulfilling careers in the healthcare field that serve their communities. Professionals from sponsoring healthcare faciliies lead the stations, volunteering their time & talent to mentor students & share their expertise.REACH is a one-day program, taking place at a local healthcare facility.
Regional AHEC Dir
Med Start Summer Camp is an AHEC funded program designed to encourage junior and senior high school students to pursue their interest in a variety of healthcare careers. AHEC focuses on accepting students who are from disadvantaged backgrounds, low-income families, rural areas, minorities, or first generation college students. The aim of Med Start is to provide students - who may not otherwise have the opportunity - a chance to further explore healthcare careers, learn about college life, and realize it is possible to pursue higher education. Students often think of healthcare as including only “doctors and nurses.” Med Start tries to break down that stereotype by educating students on the large variety of careers available in the healthcare industry.
Curriculum sessions during the week include sheep heart dissection, blood typing, suturing on pig’s feet, job shadowing, and taking blood pressures. College Support sessions include a financial aid presentation, a current health profession student panel, and a campus tour. Recreation and Social sessions include a bowling night, a hike to the “M”, and trips to the Museum of the Rockies and Lewis and Clark Caverns.
For more information check out the South Central AHEC website: http://scmtahec.org/k12students/medstartsummercamp.html
Regional AHEC Directors
Middle School and Elementary School Pipeline Programs
Hands on Health
Hands on Health is designed to foster awareness and excitement for a future career in health professions in young students.
In September 2009, Hands on Health opened at the SpectrUM Discovery Area on the University of Montana - Missoula campus. Developed by a partnership of spectrUM and the Western Montana AHEC, and funded by a generous donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, Hands on Health is an interactive and fun exhibition all about health professions and healthy living.
Visitors will interact with five thematic hands-on eshibit areas, each highlighting the work of a different type of healthcare provider. Visitors can measure their heart rate and blood oxygen level before and after getting their blood pumping to Dance Dance Revolution on the large screen. Theycan also participate in a simulated surgery, swab a giant nose and create and view their own microscope slide. They will diagnose the broken bones of a professional snowboarder, take part in guided dissections and DNA extraction, and more, all while they laugh, learn, and explore careers in healthcare. The long-term vision for the exhibition is to develop annual tours to rural communities in each of the four AHEC regions to ensure that children statewide experience the excitement of Hands on Health for years to come.
For More Information:
Hannah Motl, Outreach Coordinator
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