Deadline nears for high school students to attend MASH

Deadline nears for high school students to attend MASH
Students enrolled in MASH get hands-on experience in the medical field. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)
Casting is one aspect students will explore in the MASH program. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)
Casting is one aspect students will explore in the MASH program. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)
Students spend two weeks in the summer exploring different aspects of the medical profession. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)
Students spend two weeks in the summer exploring different aspects of the medical profession. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)
MASH is free to students, thanks to sponsors who support the program. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)
MASH is free to students, thanks to sponsors who support the program. (Source: Yalanda Merrell, UAMS)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - It's a hands-on experience that lasts only two weeks but can forever change the lives of students attending the program.

MASH, which stands for Medical Applications of Science for Health, was started by UAMS in 1988 in Pine Bluff and is the oldest of its kind in the nation. The program is held at UAMS regional campuses, community hospitals and colleges around the state.

"So MASH actually takes place at about 30 different locations all over the state and there's different times," Yalanda Merrell, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Northeast Campus Recruiting Specialist, said. "Our program here in Jonesboro, our dates are June 4-15. Our graduation is right at the end. It's coming up pretty quick and the deadlines for applications are March 14." 

Approximately 500 students participate in the program each summer statewide. The goal is to entice more students into the health care professions, where shortages are common and are expected to grow. Students selected into the program shadow health professionals in a variety of healthcare locations and learn medical terminology. Through hands-on activities, they learn medical procedures such as CPR and gain insight into multiple disciplines, with a focus on inter-professional education.

"Students, if they want to apply, they can get an application from their counselor," Merrell said. " They can get one from a career coach. They can always go to our website, they would like an application as well."

The program includes a tour of the UAMS main campus, several local field trips, and team building activities. MASH is free for students thanks to community support and partnerships with Arkansas Farm Bureau, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Baptist Health, among others.

"The students get to see and do so much," Merrell explained. "They get to job shadow for five days in areas of their interest. They get to do a heart dissection and suturing. They get to do casting. There's a team-building activity where they get to zip-line and where they get to challenge themselves."

Surveys conducted by UAMS show that students who attend MASH have a high rate of continuing their education in the medical field, with 95 percent more likely to pursue a health career. MASH participants are more likely to work in primary care and in rural and medically underserved areas of the state, where MASH does much of its recruiting.

Students have to meet certain grade requirements to participate.

"We just want to make sure those students are prepared when they take part in MASH. They need to have at least a 2.75 GPA or higher," Merrell said. "We need to make sure that they have taken biology and the students that are applying are currently in tenth or eleventh grade."

MASH has encouraged more than 9,000 students to pursue careers in healthcare. Of those, 542 have enrolled in one of UAMS' five colleges or the graduate school, and more have gone on to rewarding healthcare careers.

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