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 the AHEC newsletter will focus on National Preparedness Month - September!

Presidential Proclamation -- National Preparedness Month, 2015
"Every September, we celebrate our Nation's spirit of resilience by rededicating ourselves to the important task of being prepared in the face of any crisis." The White House
2015 National Preparedness Month
"This year we are asking you to take action now - make a plan with your community, your family, and for your pets.  Plan how to stay safe and communicate during the disasters that can affect your community." Ready

CDC: National Preparedness Month
"Throughout September, CDC and more than 3000 organizations-national, regional, and local governments, as well as private and public organizations-will support emergency preparedness efforts and encourage Americans to take action." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Big Sky Health Science Academy gets $110K from St. Patrick Hospital
"The Health Science Academy at Big Sky High School, which will graduate its first class this spring, received a major donation from Providence St. Patrick Hospital on Wednesday to support its mission of readying students for medical careers." Missoulian

Demand for Nurses in Montana Remains High
"Rising patient numbers combined with a booming need for more care has created growing demand for more nurses in Montana that's putting extra strain on health care facilities across the state as they race to fill the need." THV11

Bozeman Deaconess to Rebrand as Bozeman Health
""It's not only a name change, but it's also a new organization," said CEO Kevin Pitzer as he announced the change at a Monday morning event. "It is about more care for more people in more places." Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Urge CMS to Approve Waiver for Expanded Health Care
"For nearly three years, individuals and organizations across Montana have been working hard to expand Medicaid and increase access to affordable health care for the lowest-income Montanans." Missoulian
  • "Extreme Event: River City" Game Now Available: 
    The Koshland Science Museum has just released the second edition of their disaster preparedness role-playing game, "Extreme Event: River City". 
    This fun role-playing game gives participants a taste of what it takes to build community resilience in the face of disaster. Players work together to make decisions and solve problems during an engaging, fast-paced disaster simulation.
    The game is FREE to download and play, just in time for National Preparedness Month! Download the game today and forward this e-mail to colleagues and organizations who would benefit from the game.

The National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health sets aside the third Thursday of every November - November 19 of 2015 - to celebrate National Rural Health Day. National Rural Health Day is an opportunity to "Celebrate the Power of Rural" by honoring the selfless, community-minded, "can do" spirit of that prevails in rural America. It also gives us a chance to bring to light the unique healthcare challenges that rural citizens face - and showcase the efforts of rural healthcare workers. 

In honor of National Rural Health day the Montana Office of Rural Health & Area Health Education Center is holding two fun contest for school aged children to help raise awareness about the importance of rural health!
Health Care Careers Interview Contest

Recognizing healthcare workers and giving students a chance to explore healthcare careers! 
In this competition, involving high school students and healthcare workers. We are asking high school students to;
  1. Identity a local healthcare professional you want to recognize
  2. Snap a photo of them in their working environment  
  3. Ask them the following questions:
    • What are the challenges of working in a rural community?
    • What are the benefits of working in a rural community?
  4. Record their answers
  5. Submit your photo and answers via email to us at 
**Please include the healthcare professional's name and organization they work for, your first and last name, school, and grade level and also tell us what career path you are most interested in.**

1st place - $50 Amazon Gift Card
2nd & 3rd place - $25 Amazon Gift Card 

Submission Deadline is November 5, 2015

Stay tuned for the display of our submissions and awards!!!
Rural Health Photo Contest

In this competition for students of all ages, we are asking that you snap a photo highlighting your favorite pastimes that keep you happy, healthy and active in your community!

Post them to our facebook page at
post to Instagram and tag us using @montanaruralhealthinitiative
and #RHIphotocontest

1st place - $50 Amazon Gift Card
2nd & 3rd place - $25 Amazon Gift Card 

Submission Deadline is November 5, 2015

We welcome to the Montana HOSA Board of Directors Greg Maurer, CEO of Sheridan Memorial Hospital, and Rita Kratky, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at Miles Community College.
Montana HOSA welcomes new chapters at Troy High School, Flathead High School, and Polson High School; tentative programs are being considered in Plains and Thompson Falls.  With National HOSA board approval, programming is being expanded to the middle schools.  Middle school science teachers may contact Montana HOSA if they are interested in piloting a middle school chapter.
Fall Leadership Conferences offer an opportunity for new member orientation, leadership training, and advisor and student member networking. 

Conferences are scheduled for:

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 MedStart 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: 

MedStart Helps Montana Teens Learn About Healthcare Careers
"Students often think of healthcare as being only doctors and nurses, and the MedStart program tries to break down that stereotype by educating students about the variety of careers available in the healthcare industry." KRTV

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 Schedule:

Western AHEC Region
  • October (TBA) Charlo & Ronan @ St. Luke Community Healthcare
  • Nov. 4 Superior, St. Regis, and Alberton @ Mineral Community Hospital
  • Nov. 5 Eureka @ Kalispell Regional Medical Center
  • Nov. 17 & 18 (tentative) Missoula Big Sky High School Health Science Academy at UM College of Health Professions & Biomedical

Currently no schedules for:

North Central AHEC Region

South Central AHEC Region

Eastern AHEC Region

North Eastern AHEC Region                                        

I am Cindee McKee a Licensed Practical Nurse working for Montana Hospital Association as the Hospital Preparedness Coordinator.  I have  been employed with MHA for a little over a year.  I received my degree from Montana Tech of the University of Montana in 2000 and began practicing as an acute nurse for a Critical Access Hospital for over 12 years.  I also worked with a Family Practice Physician at St. Peter's Hospital.
I am the Co-Chair for Conference Planning and Education workgroup for Mission Lifelines of Montana. The goal of Mission Lifelines is to create and assist with existing statewide systems of care to improve the quality of care and outcomes for STEMI patients. I also serve on the task force for Cardiac Ready Communities in Montana.  Cardiac Ready Communities is a project that aims to help communities in Montana improve their cardiovascular health and increase the chance that individuals suffering from cardiovascular emergencies will have the best possible opportunity for survival. 
In my free time I enjoy visiting my daughters and step daughter who are currently attending MSU. I also enjoy riding my horse around in the mountains, skiing, which I just took up again this past year, and looking forward to quilting again.
How and why did you choose this career?
A. I would have to say that I stumbled into to this career by accident. I was working at the Department of Motor Vehicles when I was approached by a co-worker who asked if had ever thought of becoming a volunteer EMT. To be honest I had never thought about any kind of career in the medical profession, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore the medical profession. I completed the class, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the EMT classes, and once I become licensed, I fell in love the medical profession.  Being able to take care of patients and their families during the toughest moments of their lives was very rewarding to me. Being able to be a part of changing a "bad" outcome to a "positive" one is also very rewarding. I would have to say that my greatest joys are when my patients remember me, and share their stories with me relating to their experience. As an EMT you work very closely with your local hospital, and staff, and I thought...."Wow they do amazing things in the hospital setting, I should go back to school to become a nurse".  So I did and in 2000 I received my Associate Degree from Montana Tech in Butte, Montana, and right after graduation started working in a small rural Critical Access Hospital. 

As a nurse in a small facility you receive invaluable education and work experience. I always say, in a small hospital you will probably work in every aspect of the hospital. I worked for a facility that had 2 ER bays, surgery, OB, acute care and also a long term care facility. With all these entities under one roof I become a very well rounded nurse, which is something I would never change!

During my last couple years at the facility I left the floor and took a management position. I was in charge of Infection Control, Risk Management, Employee Safety and Health, covered the floor when needed, and worked closely with our Hospital Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. This was the point I started to play a role in Emergency Preparedness.  But when you work in a rural hospital employees must always be prepared for the worst possible scenario to walk in the back door. The same is true for an EMT, you always have to prepare for the worst case when you respond to a call. Both positions require you to be ready to handle any situation that comes your way.

What does a typical day in your work life look like? What are your working conditions like?
A. A typical day in the office for me would be  working on our volunteer program that we have developed here in Montana and visiting with facilities with any questions or concerns that they may have with their "Preparedness Program".  It seems that at least 1 or 2 days during the week, my partner from DPHHS (Department Public Health Human Services) and I are on the road traveling around the state visiting with each hospital's preparedness coordinator and assisting them with their programs, or evaluating their facility during and exercise or drill. A couple of examples would be, observing an "Active Shooter Drill" or a "Mass Fatality Drill".  Drills and exercises are done to see how effectively the facilities and staff respond to these kinds of situations.

The volunteer program MHMAS (Montana Healthcare Mutual Aid System) is a system used to register, verify and credential volunteer health care professionals BEFORE a major disaster or public health emergency occurs.  Any-one that works for a hospital, Public Health, or EMS, can volunteer, and we have over 1,400 volunteers currently enrolled. With this program we are able to deploy volunteers to facility that is facing a crisis/disaster situation and assist them with staffing. 
My position is funded through a contract with the State of Montana DPHHS, and I work very closely with them in ensuring that hospitals are ready and prepared to handle outbreaks of communicable disease or any other hazard weather it is manmade, or natural that may impact their facility.
With this job, I am on the road traveling over 50% of the time visiting with the facilities around the state, and some days can be long, as we all know how "BIG" Montana is!  But most days it is a typical 8-5 day.  I am also able to attend many educational conferences which are always so beneficial to me in this position, as process and plans are always changing in the world of "Disaster Preparedness".  But my true joy is being able to get out and visit with our small facilities around the state and assist them in any way I can.  Even the smallest things make the biggest difference to our facilities.

What educational requirements are needed for your career?
A. The educational requirements for this position usually require a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree in a health related field and 3 to 5 years of experience in rural hospital, emergency preparedness or public health or an equivalent combination of education and experience.  The average annual salary was $52,590 to $67,150 in 2013.
What skills and abilities are necessary in your profession?
A. Skills and abilities would include:
  • Strong verbal and written communication
  • Knowledge of emergency and/or disaster planning principles and practices
  • Knowledge of laws and regulations governing emergency management
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships
  • Mathematical Skills
  • Reasoning Ability
  • Ability to effectively present information 
Any final thoughts?
A. Final thoughts would be that if individuals are interested in the Health Care Field/Emergency Preparedness I would strongly suggest that they shadow an individual that works in these capacities. I believe that it truly gives you a little glimpse of the trials and tribulations that individuals in these positions face on a day-to- day basis. I know that I would never change the career path that I decided to take many years ago!
Mckee, C. (2015, September 3). Email interview.
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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)