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Montana employers trying to engage high schoolers into healthcare to fill shortage

Montana employers trying to entice high schoolers into healthcare field to fill shortage
Posted at 10:02 AM, Apr 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-06 12:02:29-04

BILLINGS — As the healthcare profession continues to face a nationwide worker shortage, one Montana group is aiming to engage high school students in a future career in the healthcare industry.

Over 300 high school students from across the state are in Billings this week for the annual Montana HOSA State Leadership Conference. HOSA - Future Health Professionals, formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America, empowers students interested in entering the profession of healthcare. Wednesday's portion of the conference was held at the Rocky Vista University campus.

“It’s neat to see people investing in the future of our students,” said the Montana HOSA Director Katie Meier. “We have a lot of kids already starting their careers in entry-level positions and so I just think it’s cool to see the way that people have come together to address that workforce shortage in our state.”

Columbia Falls High School Junior Ilah Mckenzie and her teammate Canyon Masters competed together in a hypothetical emergency situation during the event. They were given little details before entering the room, then were judged based on their assessment of the situation and the help they provided to the mannequins that were 'injured.'

Ilah Mckenzie and Canyon Masters in hypothetical emergency situation

“This was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and there’s just been so many new opportunities that I’ve seen through this as a club that I haven’t throughout the school district. So it’s really neat,” Mckenzie said.

Ronan high school student Alorah Baker did a presentation for the event on a respiratory therapist shortage.

“There’s a desperate need for respiratory therapists in Montana,” Baker said.

Meier said it is important to keep students interested in pursuing healthcare careers.

“It’s been really neat to see the community partners all come together and realize that this is an issue that we all have to have a stake in,” Meier said.