For the third consecutive year, area high school students are undergoing an intense two week internship this month at both Bullhead City area hospitals. The 17 students are being exposed to a wide variety of health care careers in addition to the traditional career paths of physicians and nurses. 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). Last year, students from Clark County School District and Mohave Accelerated Learning Center (MALC) joined the program, and this year the Needles Unified School District is participating for the first time.
The students from Laughlin, Mohave, Needles and River Valley High Schools, plus MALC, 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.
Since the dissolution of BREDA earlier this year, 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 several years ago at an Arizona Association of Economic Development conference. Other corporate sponsors this year are Mohave Electric Cooperative, Frontier Communications and Southwest Gas.
“Even though the medical field is not directly related to mining, it’s very important to us to continue this well-established program,” said Dick Whittington, president and CEO of Northern Vertex, Golden Vertex’s parent company. “M*A*S*H gives area youth a chance to pursue their dreams and further their education. If some of our best and brightest stay in, or return to, the Tri-State area, that benefits all of us.”
In order to be considered, students had to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average, have already taken and passed chemistry, biology and algebra with a B or better grade, complete a 400 word essay and provide three letters of recommendation. There were 24 applicants for the 17 positions, with nine students assigned to WARMC and eight students plus one alternate assigned to Valley View. McCabe noted that once again, the selection committee “had a difficult time selecting the finalists, since several of the students have 4.0 (straight A) GPAs.”
The Lake Havasu Partnership for Economic Development and Havasu Regional Medical Center created the Tri-State area’s M*A*S*H program in 2012 after the initial concept was developed in Willcox at Northern Cochise Community Hospital. HRMC will also host another M*A*S*H program this year.
Local hospital officials said they were looking for maturity, community service and a sincere desire and interest to be a part of the healthcare industry. Some students indicated an interest in having their professional medical careers in the Tri-State area, an ongoing goal of both hospitals and many community leaders.