For 25 years the Medical Applications of Science for Health Program (MASH) has been giving students an opportunity to get a hands-on experience of the medical field.

For 25 years the Medical Applications of Science for Health Program (MASH) has been giving students an opportunity to get a hands-on experience of the medical field.

Sixteen junior and senior high school students in Pine Bluff were able to join the MASH Camp from June 4-15.

Throughout the two weeks the students were exposed to everything they would see if they were to be a staff member at Jefferson Regional Medical Center, said Cindy Adams, director of MASH. According to Adams, the program started off with a tour of JRMC.

Students learned to check vital signs and blood pressure as well as how to suture an open wound, using pigs’ feet. The students watched as doctors put casts on them, showing them the process of how to correctly apply a cast. The students had the option to go home with the cast, but according to Adams, they declined.

The students became CPR and AED certified and dissected a pig’s heart. Adams said she believed the most enjoyable moment for the students was when they were able to shadow the doctors as they went through the surgery process. They witnessed several surgeries throughout the program.

The doctors talked to the students and showed them every detail as they watched each surgery. Adams said the doctors really enjoyed the students shadowing.

“These students will be taking the place of the doctors one day, so it’s like the doctors are training them,” Adams said.

Several speakers came out to give presentations to the students. They also took a field trip to Southeast Arkansas College to participate in the simulation lab where they worked with employees in the radiology department, which Adams said they really enjoyed.

According to Adams, one of the more serious events was the MASH Crash, which really got the students’ attention.

During the MASH Crash students watched a simulated crash that showed the dangers of drinking or texting while driving. Emergency Ambulance Service Inc., (EASI) as well as the Pine Bluff Police Department and the city of Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services, came out to make the experience seem more real to the students.

According to Adams, the moment the body bags were brought out the students were really shocked, and she believed it woke them up and showed them the seriousness of the situation. She said students came up to her afterward saying they wouldn’t text or drink while driving.

“It really hit home with a few of the students, some of them were really emotional throughout the crash.”

As well as the MASH Crash, students were exposed to the dangers of Internet crimes. Detective Roy Gober, who is with the Arkansas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, came in and gave a presentation on cyber crimes.

At the end of the two weeks the students attended a graduation luncheon at the Pine Bluff Country Club. Since this was the program’s 25th year, it was a really important event. J.E. Maples, Jr., director of Area Health Education Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, was the initiator of the graduation.

Maples is also one of the co-founders of MASH. According to Adams, Maples was the one who came up with the name of the program. Adams said she felt he deserved much of the credit for all he has done in the program.

Maples said he felt this year was a tremendous success, just as the previous years have been. According to Maples, UAMS figures show that 10 to 12 percent of students that attend the university have attended the MASH program when they were young.

In celebration of their 25th year, alumni from 1988 through 2011 were welcomed to attend the graduation. Maples said many of the alumni were able to make it to the luncheon and it was a great experience for them.

There were several speakers, including Dan Rahn, who is chancellor at UAMS. Adams said although Rahn wasn’t able to attend, he took the time to make a motivational video for the students, which they played during the luncheon.

Adams said she was thankful to all the healthcare professionals that participated in the program. She felt this year was a success. She said many students that have previously been in the program ended up with a career in the medical profession field, a few even work for the MASH program.

“Students have told me they never expected to be in the program and never thought they would learn as much as they did,” she said.

In order to be accepted into the program, the students had to have at least a 2.5 grade point average as well as a counselor and science teacher’s recommendation. Adams said they choose the students based on the story they wrote and how interested the students are in the program. The applications go through a panel of judges. A student can only go through the program once.

The students were at the hospital from 8 in the morning until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Adams said although health care isn’t always exciting, the students learned a lot from the program and had an excellent time.

According to the MASH brochure, the program is sponsored by UAMS Medical Center Auxiliary and is endorsed by the Area Health Education Centers Program.