Health Science Connection for Secondary & Post-Secondary Educators
December 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 the AHEC newsletter will focus on International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Dec. 3rd)! See you all next year!

International Day of Persons with Disabilities
"Over 1 billion people, or approximately 15 percent of the world's population, live with some form of disability! This day provides an opportunity to further raise awareness of disability and further the global efforts to promote accessibility, remove all types of barriers and realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society." NAS Recruitment Innovation
Development and Human Rights for All
"The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992, by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life." 
United Nations Enable

2015 Call for Proposals Grantees Announced
"Montana Healthcare Foundation announced more than $1.3 million in new grants to Montana-based organizations seeking to address the state's most pressing health problems. We will be funding 34 new grantees for innovative projects focusing on key health challenges in behavioral health (including mental illness and drug and alcohol abuse), American Indian health, and new programs that seek to improve health outcomes and control rising healthcare costs, particularly in communities already struggling with a lack of resources and personnel. These grants were selected through the foundation's 2015 call for proposals."

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana to break ground in Medicaid expansion
"As Montana officially became the 30th state to expand Medicaid earlier this month, it became the first to do so with a third-party program administrator: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. The company is now ramping up to step into its new role." Healthcare Dive
Teaching Tolerance: A Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center
This high school lesson plan focuses understanding disabilities -

ADL Curriculum Connections: History of the Disability Rights Movement
The Anti-Defamation League Curriculum Connections' lesson plan discusses the History of the Disability Rights Movement - 
We have four Curriculum In A Box's out in our community. Learn more about the In-A-Box Curriculum Program.
  • Heart (new), Bones & Muscles, and Brain are out at Highland Elementary School and Will James Middle School helping teach 4th, 5th, & 6th graders.
  • The Eye Box is at the Billings Career Center, a learning center for high school students in Billings.  The box is with the students in the BioMed. Program, an advance three year program for students interested in the medical field.
Nikole Bakko is also doing two Lunch and Learns at Orchard Elementary School in Billings, on December 1st and 2nd: Cold and Flu, What To Do?  RiverStone Health has a clinic in Orchard School for students and their immediate family members. The clinic team and Nikole will be teaching 4th and 5th graders all about cold and flus and how to prevent the spread of them. View Flyer

Montana middle schools, watch for a HOSA chapter coming to your school soon.  For the third year, Montana HOSA chapters are provided the opportunity to present health science lessons to their local middle school science classes while, at the same time, raising funds for State Leadership Conference.  AHEC is partnering with HOSA to offer use of their In-A-Box curriculum trunk library.  HOSA chapter members use the trunk contents to instruct students during their class period.  And, thanks to a generous donation from the International Heart Institute and the Providence Montana Health Foundation, AHEC has been able to add the new Heart In-A-Box to their libraries.
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, martha.robertson@umontana.eduMore information at

MedStart Summer 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 in 2015. Additional information can about the camps be accessed at: 

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 Schedules:
Western AHEC Region - 
  • Dec. 2 - Charlo & Ronan High Schools @ St. Luke's Community Healthcare
  • Dec. 7 - Cabinet Peaks was canceled.
The above photo was taken Wedesnesday, November 18th, when freshmen members of the Big Sky High School Health Science Academy spent the day visiting departments at the UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences.  In the photo, in the Histology lab, a student is being instructed on the use of a microtome, used to cut paraffin samples of mouse tissue.  Forty students came to campus Tuesday, November 17th; the second forty came on Wednesday.
Eastern AHEC Region - 
  • Jan. 28, 2016 - In Lewistown @ Central Montana Medical Center - View Flyer
On November 17th nine students from Chief Dull Knife College had shadowing experience in a field of interest at St. Vincent Healthcare.
South Central AHEC Region
  • April 6, 2016 - In Butte @ St James Healthcare
Currently no schedules for:
North Eastern AHEC Region
North Central AHEC Region                               

Sarah  Certel, Ph.D.
1. How and why did you choose this career?
I had a great high school science teacher who introduced me to the fascinating questions one can ask about biology and chemistry but I didn't really choose science as a career until I reached the third year of my undergraduate degree. I originally started out as an accounting major but realized a numbers-based career was not interesting enough for me. When I took a Genetics course as a junior at Evangel University, I was captivated by how scientists in the past used genetics to identify chromosomes, genes and the rules of inheritance. When I had the opportunity, I did some lab work and really enjoyed the freedom of designing and completing my own experiments. After these experiences, I decided that science and in particular the field of genetics was the career for me and never looked back..

2. What does a typical day in your work life look like?
I would say there is rarely a typical day in my work life. Every day when I arrive in my office there are activities on my calendar including teaching, lecture preparation, lab meetings, faculty meetings, etc. However, through new email messages in my inbox or working with my students undertaking experiments in the lab, the majority of days have an unexpected twist or event.
Many of the new events are exciting, for example, a great discussion in one of my genetics or neuroscience courses, or new invitations to share with UM and outside communities the impact our research on aggression is having in our scientific field. To reach a broader audience, I have been blessed to be part of spectrUM and the mobile science program. Through this outreach, students of all ages in Missoula and the whole state, can learn how we use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to study genetic and neuroscience-related questions.
However on a normal day, I balance time in my office with time in my lab where I dissect Drosophila brains to image neurons and set up genetic crosses to generate males to test in aggression assays.

3. What are your working conditions like (stress, pace, travel, environment, relocation, hours, etc.)?
There are days where the stress level is high whether it is at the end or beginning of a semester. I travel at least twice during a semester for meetings, to give seminars, or to review grants. Often I check my email at the end of the evening at home to answer any quick student questions or find out if any meetings for the next day have changed. It is difficult to put a number on the hours spent working per week but I do make sure to keep my family a priority. As I truly love the ability to follow my scientific passion, engage university and elementary age students in the process of learning science, and travel to share my lab group's research findings, the hours fly by. 

4. What educational requirements are needed for your career? 
The educational requirements for this position include a Ph.D degree in a science or health-related field combined with 3 to 5 years of research experience called postdoctoral training in a university or hospital setting.

5. What skills and abilities are necessary in your profession?
Skills and abilities would include:
  • Knowledge to teach courses in our areas of expertise
  • Conduct research and experiments to advance knowledge in our scientific fields
  • Supervise graduate students who are working toward advanced degrees
  • Publish original research in books and academic journals
  • Reasoning and problem solving ability
  • Strong verbal and written communication
  • Serve on academic and administrative committees
  • Required to stay informed about changes and innovations in our fields by attending meetings
6. Any final thoughts?
If individuals are interested in pursuing a scientific career in the academic world, I would strongly suggest they obtain research experience by joining or volunteering in a lab. Research is a tough business as there are many failures but it is an exciting career choice for the curious and self-motivated. Have you ever wondered why things are a certain way? As a scientist, you get to spend your time figuring out the answers as well as hope that you contribute something to the body of scientific knowledge that no one has ever known before you discovered it. Not many jobs allow us to have this combination of freedom and responsibility! 

Certel, S. (2015, December 2). 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)