Health Science Connection for Secondary & Post-Secondary Educators
APRIL  2015

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 April will focus on healthcare decisions in recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day!

National Healthcare Decisions Day
"NHDD was created as a day to inspire and empower the public and providers about the importance of advance care planning. Emphasizing the spotlight on the importance of advance directives, National Healthcare Decisions Day, as a collaborative effort of national, state and community organizations, works to ensure that the information, opportunity and access needed to document  health care decisions, is available to all decision-making capable, United States adults." For more information regarding National Healthcare Decisions Day, see:
Advance Directives and End-of-Life Decisions
"When people are seriously hurt, sick, or near the end of their lives, they may not be able to tell their doctors what kind of medical and nursing care they want. They also might not be able to tell them where they want to receive care. Doctors need to know who you want to speak for you if this happens. The best way to give this information to doctors and caregivers is to write it down. The most safe and legal way to do this is to use advance directive documents." Group Health Cooperative
How Sick Teens Are Calling The Shots When It Comes To Facing Death
"When it comes to their health, teens and young adults with medical problems don't always have much control. Thanks to a planning guide, they can find comfort and gain a little power -- by having a say in their death." The Huffington Post

HEALTH MATTERS: Take Care to Prevent Common Sports Injuries
"Injuries can be painful and keep you from doing the things you enjoy. Here are some ideas to keep you and your loved ones happy and healthy as you run, jump and play." Billings Gazette
Gallatin County Again Tops Montana Health Ranking
"For the sixth year in a row, Gallatin County has topped an annual ranking of Montana's healthiest counties based on data compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute." Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Elder Care Center Uses Music to Access Memories in Alzheimer's Patients
"Canyon Creek has about 50 residents and is the first facility in Montana to be certified by Music and Memory. They were inspired to take the class after watching the documentary 'Alive Inside - The Story of Music and Memory,' said Amy Peterson, Canyon Creek community relations director. The film tells stories of elder care professionals who set up personalized music playlists to tap in to deep memories not lost to dementia." Billings Gazette

"...the HOSA Future Health Professionals 11th annual state leadership conference, which brought more than 220 high school students from across the state to Bozeman for two days of competitions, panels and educational opportunities." Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Main Street Montana Project
"The Main Street Montana Project signifies historic alignment between the Montana University System (MUS) and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry. This alignment has caught the attention of national leaders revolutionizing workforce development through private sector leadership strategies. In recognition of Montana's dedication to tearing down silos and transforming workforce development, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Montana with over $40 million through the TAACCCT program: $25 million for energy and advanced manufacturing and $15 million for healthcare workforce training. Over 100 employers have committed to these efforts to engage in curriculum development and invest in on the job training for students." Main Street Montana Project

Health Science Teacher Training

Secondary science or health enhancement teachers may be eligible to enroll in this 2 week, online class. (The teachers need to have college credit in Anatomy & Physiology and participate in job shadowing at their local medical facility).  At the end of this course, the teacher then applies for a Class 4A Health Science Endorsement.  This allows the teacher to access Perkins and State Vocation Education funds to purchase supplies for their classroom. 


Health Science Endorsements are also available to Health Professionals.  They would receive a Class 4B Endorsement and just need to send in an application. (I can provide more info).  IF they would like the benefit of understanding the curriculum used in these classes, they are also encouraged to attend the online training.


This online course is FREE and they will receive curriculum for Intro to Health Careers.


I appreciate your efforts to help build our healthcare pipeline,

Renee Harris

Health Science Education Specialist

Office of Public Instruction


View a number of plans from PBS on the topic of Death and Dying -
"End-of-Life Care" lesson plan provided by HCPro- 

At the 11th Annual Montana HOSA: Future Health Professionals State Leadership Conference (SLC) students competed in 24 offered competitive team, leadership, skills, and emergency preparedness events, many of which required prior online testing (averaged into final score). Friday afternoon, all the students bused over to the MSU campus and the molecular bioscience labs on Tech Blvd. to attend 4 of 20 educational symposiums hosted by MSU faculty staff and local professionals.


New state officers were elected: President, Anika Melzer-Roush (Missoula Sentinel HS), and Co-Presidents, Lauren Higgins (Bozeman HS) and Magnolia Chinn (Missoula Sentinel HS). Darby Lacey, former National HOSA Officer and MSU student, was recognized for her service as state officer coach.  Lynn Brooks, Board President, is stepping down and was recognized for his 11 years of service to Montana HOSA.


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


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. AHEC received over 90 scholarship applications and will be making selection and notifying applicants in the next two weeks. Additional information 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.


REACH Camp Tentative Schedule


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

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

April 29: St. Ignatius and Polson students (Providence St. Joseph Medical Center)

April 9: St. Ignatius Career Day


April 29: Baker (Fallon County Medical Complex)


April 21: Butte (St. James Hospital)

April 29: Townsend (Broadwater Health Center)

Phronsie Sprenger is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) who focuses in the healthcare field of oncology. Social workers provide individuals support, tools and resources to help clients overcome obstacles or conditions they are faced with in order to maximize quality of life. LCSWs can work in a multitude of clinical settings and healthcare fields.


According to the, the average national salary for an LCSW degree is $62,236 while the average salary in Montana is $54,644.


How and why did you choose this career?

A. The original career I chose was to be a pilot; I thought being a pilot would be the best job ever. The funny thing was I just couldn't get into my coursework. I was getting A's in psychology and struggling to get through my aviation classes. After a break from school, I decided to go back, this time to pursue a degree that would allow me to get into the helping field. With my degree complete, I found myself with an opportunity to work in the medical field. Once I entered the helping field in the world of medicine, I knew I had found my home. For many years I helped impoverished patients manage their medical expenses. Over time I decided I wanted to do more than just help these patients with medical bills. I went back to school with the goal of becoming a medical social worker. I sometimes feel like my career chose me - I only had to be brave enough to try for it.


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

A. I am currently an oncology social worker and I don't think there is a typical day. I work 4 days a week, for 8-10 hours, depending on the day. Some days are quiet with only a few patient visits and plenty of time to get through paperwork and other days erupt into chaos with no time to breath between crises. That is one of the things I love about the job. It is different every day. I meet with patients to help them navigate the unknown world of cancer and cancer treatment and offer whatever support I can.

What are your working conditions like?

A. I have a nice office with a window, I work with wonderfully amazing, compassionate and supportive people and I get to meet the most amazing people who happen to be cancer patients. My stress level varies with what the day brings. Some days are quite stressful and other days are not. I work 4 days a week to allow a day to regroup outside of the weekend with my family, Self-care is very important in this field.


What educational requirements are needed for your career?

A. To be an oncology social worker, you have to have a master's degree in social work followed by state licensure in social work. Before the licensure exam can be taken, 2 years of professional experience in the field of social work is required.


What skills and abilities are necessary in your profession?

A. First and foremost, empathy is needed when working in this field. Compassion, ability to problem solve, ability to think outside of the box and to advocate are all skills needed to work in this field.


Any final thoughts?

A. Medical social work can be rewarding and wonderful if you enjoy a challenge and appreciate a fast pace. (2015). Licensed Clinical Social Worker Salary | Retrieved 3 April 2015, from


Sprenger, P. (2015, April 3). Email interview.

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)