Western Montana AHEC Office
South Central Montana AHEC Office
North Eastern Montana AHEC Office
Health Science Connection for Secondary & Post-Secondary Educators
February 2016

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. February is American Heart Month!
Montana Healthcare Leaders Aiming For Reform, Innovation
"If you got a couple dozen of the most powerful and influential health care leaders in Montana together in a room, they'd tell you that, overall, spending on health care here could be a lot more efficient." Montana Public Radio
Montana Averts Huge Shortfall for Health Care System
"Montana officials said they have averted a massive financial shortfall that could have possibly erupted into a political and budgetary headache over the state's health care system." Billings Gazette.
Montana Lawmakers Look To Improve Mental Health Outcomes
"Montana lawmakers are working on trying to improve mental health care treatment for young people. One idea they're looking at would link how much counselors or mental health care providers get paid to how well their patients do." Montana Public Radio
The 12th annual State Leadership Conference will be hosted March 21-22, 2016, in Missoula, at the Holiday Inn Parkside. We are looking for judges with medical and/or professional skills backgrounds to judge Monday evening and Tuesday morning events. Time commitment is 1-2 hours. Judge sign-up is available onlineA short judge's training session is optional, Thursday, March 17, 4pm, at the UM.
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.
If you are interested in starting a HOSA chapter at your high school, contact Martha Robertson, martha.robertson@umontana.edu. More information at www.montanahosa.org.
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 and 2016 applications (Due March 4) are at: 

Camps will be held in Missoula, Great Falls, Miles City, Butte, and Billings (dates listed below).
  • Missoula:  June 12-16
  • Great Falls:  July 10-14
  • Miles City:  July 17-21
  • Butte:  July 24-28
  • Billings:   July 31-Aug 4
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. More information: http://healthinfo.montana.edu/workforce-development/reach.html
REACH Camp Schedules for 2016:
Western AHEC Region - 
  • March 8th - Eureka at UM College of Health Professions & Biomed Sciences
  • April 14th - Libby at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center
South Central AHEC Region - 
  • April 20th - Butte at St. James Healthcare
North Eastern AHEC Region - 
  • March 8th - Poplar/Wolf Point
  • April 6th - Plentywood
  • April 14th - Malta 
Currently no schedules available for:
Eastern AHEC Region
North Central AHEC Region                 
CardioHEADS: Cardiovascular Disease - The theme of this unit centers on cardiovascular disease (CVD) and the risk factors that lead to CVD. It does not attempt to cover every concept related to CVD. The unit incorporates computer-based technology, grade-appropriate math skills, and critical thinking application skills for role-playing an Emergency Medical Technician whose primary purpose is to differentiate CVD (and CVD risk factor symptoms) from symptoms associated with other medical conditions

KidsHealth: Cardiovascular System - "Do you appreciate how hard I work?" If the cardiovascular system could talk, this might be what it would ask. The discussion questions and activities in this guide will help earn this system some well-deserved appreciation for nourishing and cleansing the body's tissues, and they will help students learn some heart-healthy habits.
Mapping Mental Health Resources in Montana
February 18, 2016 2:00-3:00 pm (MST)

Webinar Objectives: 
* Explore the landscape of Montana's mental health status 
* Introduction of Mental Health First Aid and how to expand your mental health literacy 
* Connecting communities to mental health resources available in Montana
Presented by Kailyn Dorhauer with the Montana Office of Rural Health and Area Health Education Center
School Breakfast: What's the Big Deal?

March 9, 2016 2:00-3:00 pm (MST)

Tips on how to expand and maximize the potential of your school's breakfast program.This webinar will help anyone interested in alternative breakfast models understand the different types and how they are implemented. Presented by Montana Foodbank Network - Tirza Asbell
Montana Smarter Lunchroom Series
March 22, 2016 2:00-3:00 pm (MST)

Customer Service Best PracticesCustomer satisfaction is essential for thriving, successful school meal programs. Go directly to the source for ideas and feedback. Start a Smarter Lunchrooms Team (consisting of several students, the school food service director, teachers and others) at your school to glean loads of useful information! 
Presented by Montana Team Nutrition - Katie Bark / Molly Stenberg
   Blair D. Erb, MD
Blair D. Erb, Jr., MD is a cardiologist in Bozeman, Montana and is affiliated with Bozeman Health (formerly Bozeman Deaconess Hospital). He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine where he graduated with honors and has been in practice for 32 years. He founded Cardiology Consultants of Bozeman, PC (now Bozeman Health Cardiology Clinic) in 2002. Dr. Erb was elected a Trustee of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for a five-year term in 2013. He previously served as governor for the Montana chapter of the ACC. Dr. Erb is board certified in internal medicine, and the subspecialty of cardiovascular diseases.
1.  How and why did you choose this career?
It was difficult for me to decide whether I wanted to be a medical physician or a surgeon. I really enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes-like aspect of diagnostics, but I also really enjoyed the operating room and the procedural side of care. Ultimately I decided to go in to internal medicine with a track toward cardiology because that would allow me to blend both the cognitive aspects of medicine, as well as the procedural aspects. Cardiology provided a nice balance between the satisfaction of performing procedures along with the intellectual satisfaction of solving problems.

2.  What does a typical day in your work life look like?
I get to work at 7:30 AM and hit the ground running. I'll see anywhere from 12 to 21 patients throughout the day. In addition to seeing patients, I also perform stress tests, read cardiac ultrasounds, and read EKGs. I get home in the early evening, anywhere from 5 -7 PM. Now, that is completely unlike the old days when I would be on call. Those were days of 36 hours straight of work.

3.  What are your working conditions like?
My days are typically 10-12 hours at the Bozeman Health Cardiology Clinic office. My job is very quick-paced and exciting. I don't really know how to define the stress of my career. I can't say that the levels of stress throughout the day for me are any greater than those of other physicians.

4.  What educational requirements are needed for your career?
I went to Colorado College for my undergraduate education and graduated from medical school with honors at Vanderbilt University. I fulfilled my residency in internal medicine the at University of California, San Francisco, where I served as chief medical resident and clinical instructor in medicine. I went back to Vanderbilt to compete my cardiology fellowship while I served as chief fellow and as interim director of the echocardiography laboratories at Vanderbilt Medical Center. After medical school, I spent 7 years of post-graduate training between residency and fellowship.

There are also ongoing educational requirements for all physicians. This is a very controversial subject right now in the United States with respect to maintenance and board certification and how it should be best done. Part of the definition of a profession is a commitment to lifelong or continuous learning. The controversy is not whether continuous learning is needed, but rather how it should be accomplished so that it results in improved patient outcomes.

5.  What skills and abilities are necessary in your profession?
Cardiology is a procedural subspecialty of medicine and even within cardiology, we have sub-subspecialties. For example, we have: interventional cardiologists who perform angioplasty and stenting; electrophysiologists who specialize in heart rhythm management; heart failure specialists; congenital heart disease specialists; and structural heart disease specialists. The skillsets needed for each of those subspecialties are a little bit different. Then there is the overall umbrella of general cardiology. I practiced interventional cardiology for about 15 years. I am now a general cardiologist which means I basically do consultative work in the office. In a sense, I am a primary care cardiologist.

6.  Any final thoughts?
  • Study hard.
  • Don't worry about specifics as far as jobs go, something will happen naturally. You will select a job that has selected you. People end up in the place they should be within medicine, there are so many different variations that fit personalities.
  • Never forget continuous learning.
  • Never forget professionalism.
Erb, B. D. (2016, January 29). Phone interview.
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 - rharris3@mt.gov
Montana Area Health Education Center (AHEC)
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