Nov 13, 2012 10:18 PM by Russ Thomas - KPAX News
SUPERIOR - Some of the brightest young people in Mineral County had a chance to explore how one Western Montana hospital works, with the hope that sometime they'll return as doctors and nurses.
Mineral Community Hospital hosted the REACH Program, and rural students, on Tuesday in an effort to alleviate a growing need.
"We are severely lacking in primary care providers in Montana," REACH program coordinator Martha Robertson said. "We are trying to get more health care professionals to work in rural areas."
REACH stands for Research and Explore Awesome Career in Healthcare. A group of sophomores from Superior, St. Regis, and Alberton high schools were invited for a day long look at several career opportunities.
Robertson said the goal is to show rural students the many specialties in the health care field. Students got a behind the scenes look at surgery, radiology, physical therapy, respiratory therapy and other departments in the hospital.
Many teens walked away with a whole new appreciation of the field.
"It really opens up my eyes to what the medical field looks like and what the job entails with what you do every day," said Wyatt Zywaly, a Superior High School student.
In addition to having a day dedicated to learning opportunities like this, Mineral Community Hospital CEO Steve Carty says the hospital may offer financial help for those that want to stay and work in the community
"For the high-need areas, we also offer tuition assistance, if they are willing to go to school, come back, and commit to working here."
Hospital administration and REACH program leaders hope that days like these will benefit will pay dividends in their community in the years ahead.
Montana expects to see over 1,600 new healthcare jobs by 2014.