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story.lead_photo.caption LifeNet EMTs Skylar Mitchell and Odie Moore explain the pieces of equipment in the back of a LifeNet ambulance to students in the MASH program on Thursday in Texarkana, Ark. Students that day performed a mock injury to demonstrate how ground crews respond to a patient that needed to be airlifted to a hospital. Staff photo by Hunt Mercier

Eighteen area students are participating in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences MASH program.

The two-week program allows the students, most of whom are interested in entering the medical field, to explore a variety of health sciences professions in hopes that it will help clarify their career path.

"This introduces them to all different kinds of health sciences including surgery, respiratory care, radiology, pathology and lab and more," said Destiny Carter, education coordinator at UAMS.

On Thursday afternoon, MASH students were treated to a mock accident drill with LifeNet first responders. The set-up was a lady had fallen two stories and had several broken bones and a possible spinal injury. She was assessed at the scene of the 'accident' giving students a look at the kind of care provided by emergency responders.

LifeNet Director of PR and Marketing Tina Bell said MASH is a great program that shows those potentially going into the medical field the way all the disciplines work together.

"Not a lot of people throughout their school years get exposed to emergency medical services and this give us an opportunity to introduce them to EMS career opportunities," she said. "Additionally a lot of these students are interested in careers as doctors, mid-level providers and nurses so being exposed to out-of-hospital care in the back of an ambulance will help them in their professions later in life to understand how EMS and emergency rooms work together."

Other activities students experience during the program students include becoming CPR certified, practicing suturing and casting and dissecting a pig heart.

"The hope is that this gives students interested in a health profession clarity on what direction they want to go in. We have some students who are set on what they want to do and others who are trying to figure it out. It really helps them see an everyday look at health professions," Carter said.

The MASH program has been available in Texarkana for nearly 30 years.

"A lot of people who've completed the program are now doctors, nurses or working in another health professions and they are the ones making presentations to these students," she said.

MASH is for students who've completed ninth through 12th grades and it's competitive to get into the program. Applications go out in February and are returned around mid-April. Then a committee sits down and scores the applications based on GPA, school and community involvement, extracurricular activities, their essays and one-on-one interviews.

"We encourage students if at first they aren't accepted to apply again," Carter said.

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