Health Science Connection for Secondary & Post-Secondary Educators

You have been referred to our e-newsletter because you work with students who may be interested in a healthcare career.

Montana AHEC/ORH supports efforts to improve healthcare across Montana. One of our 3 key objectives is to help students explore careers in healthcare. We hope that this newsletter may become a great resource for you and your students. This month of February we have a little focus toward heart health!

Bullock Announces $3.2M Gift for Cardiac Care Initiative
"A $3.2 million charitable donation announced by Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday will go toward helping more people in Montana survive cardiac arrest. The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services received the $3.2 million gift from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. It will be used to implement an initiative called "Cardiac Ready Communities" over the next three years." Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Arthritis Foundation Webinar
Sarah Devitt, an Outreach Coordinator from the Montana AHEC Program Office, will be hosting a webinar focusing on the Arthritis Foundation. The webinar will be held in March. Please view our past webinars in the meantime. RHI Webinars

"Software engineering, nursing and other jobs in the technology and health care fields led a recent list of the top in-demand positions for the new year. The report includes the top 10 most in-demand jobs for 2015." Fortune

Healthcare Facilities Face Skills Gap When Hiring Nurses
"Healthcare hiring is expected to increase this year, more for outpatient settings than hospitals, and employers will face a skills gap in hiring nurses because of expansion in areas such as population health management, patient outreach and care coordination. Carolinas HealthCare doubled its number of advanced-practice nurses over five years to increase its primary-care capacity." Modern Healthcare

Basic X-Ray Techniques
This program is available to individuals preparing for radiology technology programs around the state, and a prerequisite for those attending Weber State Radiology program. It also serves the needs of the Registered Technologist who needs a refresher course.


Our Basic X-ray Techniques course will be held on March 13-14-15-16 and continue on March 27-28-29-30, 2015 at RiverStone Health. This 104-hour program, which includes a 35-hour correspondence course, is designed to meet the needs of those persons preparing to take the State of Montana, Board of Radiologic Technologist Limited Permit Exam and meets the North Dakota Educational Requirements for Limited X-ray Operators. This program has been awarded 67.5 Category A credits from the ASRT-American Society of Radiologic Technologists. Past participants have come from Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska, Idaho and Washington.  Brochures were mailed in January.


For more information about this program please contact Claudia Janecek, Continuing Education Coordinator, Eastern Montana AHEC-RiverStone Health, Telephone (406)247-3336 or


Over 300 students will be converging on Bozeman, March 19-20, for the 11th Annual Montana HOSA: Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference (SLC). SLC provides an opportunity for student members to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired during the school year. Students will also be spending an afternoon on the MSU campus participating in four of the over two dozen educational symposiums. 


HOSA provides a unique program of leadership development, motivation, and recognition exclusively for secondary and collegiate students enrolled in health science education and biomedical science programs or have interests in pursuing careers in health professions.  HOSA is not a club for a few members. Rather, it is a powerful instructional tool which is integrated into the Health Science Education and health science related core curriculum and classroom. HOSA's mission is especially critical when considering the acute shortage of qualified workers for Montana's healthcare industry. The 2015 National HOSA theme is "LEAD," and our Montana students are the next generation of healthcare industry leaders.


If you are interested in starting a HOSA chapter at your high school, contact Martha Robertson,

More information at


The Montana AHEC is excited to announce 2015 Summer Med Start Camps!


These camps are designed for incoming high school Juniors/Seniors who are interested in exploring healthcare careers.  The camps provide numerous hands on activities, job shadows, and introduce students to college campus life.  Many scholarships are available, however, due to the competitive nature of the camps students are encouraged to apply early. Applications must be postmarked no later than March 20, 2015.  Additional information and applications can also be accessed at:




June 14 - 18 Missoula: University of Montana (UM)

July 12 - 16 Billings: Montana State University Billings (MSUB)
July 19 - 23 Butte: Montana Tech
August 2 - 6 Great Falls: University of Great Falls & Great Falls College


REACH is an acronym for Research and Explore Awesome Careers in Healthcare. The regional AHECs set up a partnership between local hospitals and high schools to provide students the opportunity to visit their local hospital and participate in hands-on activities in a variety of departments.


On Monday, January 12, forty Missoula Sentinel High School biology students visited the south end of the UM campus to explore biomechanics, try their hand at the electron microscope, and visit the Phillip L. Wright Zoological Museum.  Following morning sessions, the group hoofed through the snow, across campus, to be escorted, by JC Weida, Director of Athletics, through the Rhinehart Athletic Training Center.


REACH Camp Tentative Schedule

February 19: Shelby High School 9th grade students (Marias Medical Center)


April 14: Thompson Falls, Noxon, Plains, and Hot Springs students (Clark Fork Valley Hospital)

May 29: Eureka GEAR UP students (Kalispell Regional Medical Center)


March 18-19: Poplar/Wolf Point ( Northeast Montana Health Services)

April 1: Miles City (Holy Rosary Healthcare)

April 29: Baker (Fallon County Medical Complex)


March 17: Deer Lodge (Deer Lodge Medical Center)

April 8: Butte (St. James Hospital)


Katie Bark is a Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist (RD, LN) and is the project director of Montana Team Nutrition. Registered dietitians can work in management, healthcare, food service, private practice, education, industry and in a variety of settings throughout the community. In a clinical setting, RDs generally spend time translating the science of food and nutrition into practical information for their patients. They use math skills frequently calculating caloric needs, fluid, vitamin and electrolyte requirements. Regardless of the area of dietetics, the common goal is: to improve the knowledge and health of people in our community.


The salary range for a Registered Dietitian working in Montana stated by the  United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics is $33,160 to $49,430. According to the 2011 Compensation & Benefits Survey of the Dietetics Profession, the median income of all RDa or RDNs (Registered Dietitian Nutritionists) in the U.S. who have been working in the field for 4 years or less was $52,000.


How and why did you choose this career?

A. Originally I chose this career in college, but throughout high school I had food service jobs that helped me expand my food choices and interest in nutrition. I was introduced to the field of dietetics through the dietitian at a job at a retirement center. However, I didn't think of it of a long-term career choice then. When I started college, I knew I wanted to do something in health but those first two years I didn't really know. I explored the field of medical technology but found out that working in a lab without a lot of people interaction wasn't for me.  I started to look into other Allied Health programs and took some nutrition classes and immediately knew it was for me!


What does a typical day in your work life look like?

A. Within my job as a project director for Montana Team Nutrition (it's basically the nutrition education component of the school meal programs for K-12 schools), we do a lot of education and training. My typical day might be planning an upcoming professional development workshop for school food service personnel. Just today, we got asked to conduct a garden-based nutrition education workshop for MSU extension agents. Sometimes we're in the office, but we also work on pilot projects with schools statewide so travel around the state often. One of our past projects was researching the use of a "Recess Before Lunch" policy.. We are currently working on a Smarter Lunchroom project which is all about marketing nutrition by the design of the cafeteria to nudge kids into making healthy choices.

What are your working conditions like?

A. As project director, I employee five other professional staff, one administrative staff and one student employee. We work as a team in completing our work plans to reach kindergarten through grade 12 school staff, parents and community members.  I feel fortunate to work at Montana State University as can collaborate with MSU Extension, faculty and other community health programs.


What educational requirements are needed for your career?

A. To become a registered dietitian you have to complete a bachelor's degree in dietetics or a coordinated program in dietetics; complete 1200 hours of a supervised practice through an ACEND accredited Dietetic Internship, and pass a national exam. Continuing education requirements are also required throughout a number of years in order to maintain credentials. For more information go to click on "Become an RD/RDN/DTR".  In most states, including Montana, dietitians are also required to become licensed through the state medical board.  This public safety measure ensures the public receives science-based nutrition facts and information from licensed nutrition professionals.


What skills and abilities are necessary in your profession?

A. Communication is a key skill for a dietitian because you're either teaching, counseling, or clarifying information. Another skill is to understand the science, but make it understandable and simple to the public.  Using food as a teaching tool is fun and delicious! In my job, it is important  to be team oriented and want to collaborate with others in facilitating positive environmental changes to school settings.


Any final thoughts?

A. The diversity of what you can do in nutrition is a real perk of the profession, because you can choose if you want to go into health care, community nutrition, management, food science, education, or research.  With the growing interest in local food and knowing where your food comes from, food sustainability is a new field for RDs to work in too. With food being the center of our culture, there are more and more career opportunities for dietitians.  I would be happy to provide additional information to students interested in nutrition. MSU, Bozeman also has a nutrition and dietetic internship program which can provide information too.


Bark, K. (2015, January 25). Personal interview.,. (2015). Dietitians and Nutritionists. Retrieved 25 January 2015, from,. (2015). What registered dieticians do, and how we can help you. Retrieved 2 February 2015, from

The Mysterious Human Heart: A Series by David Grubin - The "Silent Killer" lesson plan involves the focus on heart anatomy and function. Another lesson plan, "The Spark of Life", focuses on how the heart beat functions and maintains rhythm. See both these lesson plans, videos, and more about this human heart series on the PBS website -

This lesson plan provided by the CDC is very hands on and discusses congenital heart defects and heart surgery.
In This Issue
Quick Links

Please contact us with your comments, ideas, questions or projects you'd like to see highlighted in future issues of this e-newsletter. And thank you for the work you do every day to inspire and support public health initiatives and healthcare in Montana!


Renee Harris -
Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC)