Students from five area high schools in three states have begun an intense two week internship at both Bullhead City area hospitals. For the fifth straight year, students will again be exposed to a variety of health care careers, from the traditional paths of physicians and nurses to allied health, staff support and administrative positions.

The M*A*S*H program (Multiple Avenues of Successful Health Care) was first coordinated by the former Bullhead Regional Economic Development Authority (BREDA) in conjunction with Valley View Medical Center (VVMC) in Ft. Mohave, Western Arizona Regional Medical Center (WARMC) in Bullhead City and the Colorado River Union High School District (CRUHSD). Students from the Clark County School District and Mohave Accelerated Learning Center (MALC) joined the program in 2014, and the Needles Unified School District is participating for the third consecutive year.

A record number of 35 students from Laughlin, Mohave, Needles and River Valley High Schools, plus MALC, applied. The 16 selected are primarily incoming seniors. All will have 80 hours of thorough orientation and job shadowing.

When they graduate later this month, the students will have learned how to draw and type blood, received their CPR certifications, and spent time in an operating room, kitchens, medical accounting, housekeeping, plant operations and many more departments.

Oversight of the M*A*S*H program transferred to Bullhead City’s Golden Vertex Corporation, whose chief information officer Lisa McCabe, the former BREDA president, saw a presentation of another M*A*S*H program six years ago at an Arizona Association of Economic Development conference. Other sponsors this year are Mohave Electric Cooperative and the BHHS Legacy Foundation.

“Selecting the finalists was an incredibly difficult decision, because all the applicants were stellar candidates,” said McCabe. “It is a great reflection on our local schools.”

In order to be considered, students needed to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average, have already taken and passed science and algebra with a B or better grade, complete a 400 word essay and provide three letters of recommendation. Each hospital will host eight students. Many of the students have a 4.0 or better grade point average.

The Lake Havasu Partnership for Economic Development and Havasu Regional Medical Center created the first Tri-State area M*A*S*H program in 2012 after the initial concept was developed in Willcox at Northern Cochise Community Hospital. HRMC will also host a separate M*A*S*H program this year.

Both WARMC CEO Tom Salerno and VVMC CEO Feliciano Jiron said they’re pleased that some of the students are interested in returning to the Tri-State area after college to launch healthcare careers.