June 15, 2017, Silver City, NM: Twelve high school freshmen from southwest New Mexico have raised the bar for all those who follow them at the Summer Math and Science Healthcare (SMASH) Academy. They attained the highest increase in their pre and post-test scores in the history of the academy, an astounding 47 percent.
SMASH Academy immerses high school freshmen in the different aspect of health care careers. The week-long academy tours local health care facilities, participate in lab experiments and learn about the myriad of careers available in the field of health care.
Fort Sumner High School freshman, Kaycee Sultemeier traveled to Silver City to participate in SMASH. “The bacteria lab with petri dishes was my favorite. I’m interested in being an anesthesiologist after our tour of Gila Regional Medical Center.”
SMASH instructor Maia Chaney said, “This is a great group of students. They are motivated to come in for a week during their summer vacation because of their interest in a career in medicine.”
The academy is part of a larger effort to encourage and support regional youth to seek careers in health care. Each summer, FORWARD NM sponsors a series academies in southwest New Mexico for high school and college students to nurture their math and science skills to assure their success in the medical field.
FORWARD NM Director Miriam Kellerman said, “We want to grow the next generation of health care workers so our youth have good careers and fill the gap in providers needed so our residents receive the best health care from their own community members.”
New Mexico Health Care Workforce Committee estimates the state needs an additional 153 physicians and 271 advanced-practice nurses to fill the existing health care worker shortage. The need for clinicians is direr in rural areas of the state, impacting residents’ overall health and, even, life expectancy.
Hidalgo Medical Services’ Dr. Darrick Nelson said to the SMASH students, “As a Chief Medical Officer of HMS, I live the shortage every day trying to find doctors and nurses that want to serve in a small community. If you focus your career on family medicine or pediatrics you will have a life-long career.”
“We did experiments I’ve never done in school,” said Silver High freshman Jacob Maciel, who was recognized for his exuberant participation in labs. “Medcopter piolet is in my future.” Marciel claims the tour of the medial helicopter at Gila Regional Medical Center during SMASH wasn’t a factor in his future career choice.
Cobre High School freshmen Toya Ortiz and Presley Tovar are both interested in careers in sonography after their SMASH experience. Ortiz said, “We saw one at Gila Regional Medical Center on our tour. You could see the bladder, kidneys and stomach.”
Tovar was impressed by the SMASH labs, “We tested blood, and how it reacted to different substances.”
Deming High School freshman Zenaya Blue is also interested in a career in sonography and says SMASH has given her “more resources and more ability to reach my goals.” Blue was a DreamMakers alumni, which is a health careers club for junior high students sponsored regionally by FORWARD NM.
Kellerman added, “FORWARD NM supports the students’ transition from junior high to high school by offering insight into their options of careers in health care while making science fun and accessible for their future success.”
SMASH Academy was made possible by the support of the Southwest Center for Health Innovation, Freeport McMoRan Foundation, Hidalgo Medical Services, Western New Mexico University, and Gila Regional Medical Center.
For more information on FORWARD NM or the summer academies contact Kellerman at (575) 597-0036 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.