Health camps help students choose careers

When the majority of people see the letters M*A*S*H, it’s not unlikely for them to immediately think of Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Trapper John and Radar (not to mention Klinger)—and chuckle at the memories. For Arkansas high school juniors and seniors interested in healthcare-related vocations, though, it’s no laughing matter.

It’s a possible career move.

Beginning in early June, Arkansas Farm Bureau will again co-host summer M*A*S*H (Medical Applications of Science for Health) camps with 32 medical facilities throughout Arkansas, including seven locations or so within easy driving distance of Monticello.

Applications are now available to students interested in starting careers in the medical field, not just as doctors or nurses but all aspects of healthcare. The forms are available through school guidance counselors, by contacting the M*A*S*H director in the student’s area or by visiting summer-camps/.

The two-week camps, designed to expose students to opportunities at which they otherwise might not have given a second look—thinking those professions were unreachable—start June 5 in 11 locations.

“The M*A*S*H program gives students an inside look at various medical professions and is designed to spark students’ interest in the medical field,” Jennifer Victory, the AFB Director of Rural Health, said in a press release about the opening of the application process. “A large number of the camps are held at rural medical centers and attract local students with a rural background. The idea is that future medical students from a rural background are more likely to return to their roots.”

Camps around Monticello will be held in Crossett (at the Ashley County Medical Center), Dumas (Delta Memorial Hospital) and Lake Village (University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences East/ Chicot Memorial Medical Center), all June 5-16, with Fordyce (Dallas County Medical Center) joining those three sites a day later. Other Southeast Arkansas camps will be held in DeWitt (DeWitt Hospital and Nursing Home) and Pine Bluff (Jefferson Regional Medical Center), both June 12-23, and Warren (Bradley County Medical Center) July 10-21.

County Farm Bureau organizations and the M*A*S*H Partnership sponsor students so they may attend the camps at no cost. The partnership includes not only AFB but the UAMS regional centers, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Baptist Health. More information on the M*A*S*H program can be obtained by contacting Amber Marshall with UAMS at 501-686- 6188 or Victory at 501-228-1269.

Two new host facilities have been added this year at DeWitt and at the Conway Regional Medical Center but while there are a multitude of camps within an hour’s drive of Monticello and Drew Central high schools, should any students wish to afford themselves of those opportunities— and AFB Vice President of Public Relations Steve Eddington said Farm Bureau will “put a M*A*S*H camp just about anywhere a hospital will agree to host one”—there has never been a camp come to fruition in those juniors’ and seniors’ back yards, at Drew Memorial Hospital.

“I have no real knowledge as to why we haven’t done it in the past,” said Scott Barrilleaux, DMH’s current Chief Executive Offi cer. “There’s a theory that we had a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a U.S. legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information) concern early on and we decided to not pursue. It has come up recently, though, and we are currently exploring the prospect of participation.”

Mike Zieman of Drew County Farm Bureau said local students do attend other sites, but added a summer M*A*S*H camp in Monticello would be a godsend for the program in Southeast Arkansas. Marshall, the statewide pre-health program coordinator at UAMS and a longtime M*A*S*H camp director, said it might be coming sooner than later—and that such a learning possibility almost came to Monticello two years ago.

“In 2015, we set up an agenda for a M*A*S*H program,” Marshall recalled, “but it was ultimately cancelled by Drew Memorial, due to a change in administration. In 2016, we contacted the marketing coordinator at Drew Memorial, but she was unable to pull the twoweek program together.

“Currently, my regional prehealth recruiter from UAMS South Central is in talks with Drew Memorial to get a program started for next summer. We would love for (DMH) to host a program and we are hopeful the hospital will see the benefi t of exposing their local high school students to health careers at this critical time when they are making decisions about college and their futures.

“Students from rural home towns who pursue careers in medicine are more likely to return to a rural area to practice. Arkansas is facing a health professional shortage, most noticeably in primary care specialties, and primarily in the more rural areas. M*A*S*H is an early pipeline program to encourage ‘homegrown healthcare.’

“By exposing rural Arkansas students to careers in healthcare and following up with targeted, supplemental support such as mentoring, shadowing and volunteer opportunities and MCAT prep, we hope to see more rural students pursuing health careers and returning home to practice—where they are so needed.”

Victory concurred about DMH, saying she has had a “couple of conversations” with the Monticello hospital and that “we hope to have a M*A*S*H program there in the near future.”

Students may choose to attend camp at any one of the 32 sites, but all agreed that having such a camp in Monticello in the future would not only be beneficial to local students, it is necessary.

Other 2017 summer M*A*S*H camp locations and dates around The Natural State are:

  • June 5-15 at Batesville and Pocahontas;
  • June 5-16 at Clinton, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Magnolia, Paragould and Texarkana;
  • June 12-23 at Arkadelphia, Blytheville, Forrest City, Harrison, Heber Springs, Helena, Mountain View, Rogers and Russellville;
  • June 19-29 at Fayetteville;
  • June 19-30 at Camden, Fort Smith, Mena and Nashville;
  • July 10-14 at Conway;
  • July 10-20 at Mountain Home; and
  • July 10-21 at El Dorado.

The Advance-Monticellonian

Mailing Address:
PO Box 486
Monticello, AR 71657

Street Address:
314 Main Street
Monticello, AR 71655

Phone: 870-367-5325
Fax: 870-367-6612

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