Information released by the U.S. Health and Human Services shows there will be severe shortages in medical personnel over the next 20 years. A program at the Fulton County Hospital is hoping to alleviate the problem in Izard and Fulton counties.
"The MASH program gives high school students a feel for the different medical professions and hopefully some of those students will choose to go into the medical field," said Fulton County Hospital Administrator Frank Wise.
The MASH program, Medical Application for Science and Health, was started 10 years ago by Wise and Salem history teacher Larry Brown.
Wise said during the two-week program students from high schools in Izard and Fulton counties rotate between the Emergency Room, radiology, medical records, business office, maintenance, ambulance service, nursing and dietician departments.
The students do not perform medical treatments but they are given a taste of what medical professionals do. They work at each station for a set time each day and have a class in medical terminology taught by Wise.
"I teach them some of the medical jargon used by professionals so they won't be as intimidated when they get out there," Wise said. The students participate in the class each day and it lasts over an hour.
The students' reactions to the MASH program are positive.
"I like learning what they go through," said 15-year-old Salem High School student Nicole Inderrieden.
Tiffany Broyles, 15, said the staff at the hospital is friendly and helpful. "The nursing part was interesting to me. I like that a lot," she said.
This year's group includes nine students (one boy and nine girls), all from Salem High School. Wise said in the past they've had students from other high schools but didn't know why there weren't any students from other schools participating this year.
Brown said he and other teachers try to encourage student participation.
"I really enjoy it. I know a lot of the people up here (at the hospital) and some of them are former students who are former MASH participants. It's a great program," Brown said.
Wise said one thing he and Brown avoid doing during the training sessions is talking about salaries.
"Sometimes young people become fixated on how much money they'll make doing a certain job and not understand that they may not like the job. We hope they will find a job they love to do and then they can worry about the financial part," said Wise.
Wise said the program is funded by Farm Bureau in cooperation with the University of Arkansas School for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. The funding provides the students with two meals a day and all of their equipment.