Montana Medical Students Inspire High Schoolers in MedAchieve Mentorship Program

High Schoolers Explore Primary Care, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Anatomy, OMM, and More Through MedAchieve Program

May 29, 2024
TouroCOM Montana student mentors posing with GFPS staff and high school mentees, representing collaboration in the MedAchieve Montana program. Together, they inspire the future of healthcare leadership.
TouroCOM Montana student MedAchieve Montana mentors, GFPS staff, and high school mentees come together, showcasing the teamwork of MedAchieve Montana

This spring, TouroCOM Montana launched MedAchieve Montana, the Montana brand of TouroCOM's innovative MedAchieve mentorship program where our med students pair up with high school students to teach about healthcare careers and hopefully ignite a passion for medicine among the high school students. Sixteen juniors from C.M. Russell High School and Great Falls High School graduated from the MedAchieve Montana program.  

The MedAchieve Montana program is a testament to the power of collaboration. It is a joint effort between TouroCOM Montana and Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS) to nurture young students' medical dreams. Initially targeted at high school juniors during the spring, the program will extend its reach to include seniors in the upcoming fall. This expansion will see the incoming fall TouroCOM Montana class joining forces with GFPS juniors while second-year TouroCOM Montana medical students will serve as mentors for GFPS seniors. This collaborative approach ensures a holistic mentorship experience, spanning various academic stages and fostering a sense of community among all participants. 

Lan Nguyen, President of the MedAchieve program for TouroCOM Montana, shares insights into the program’s goals and tailored approach to the local community. "Our inspiration stems from programs like MedAchieve in TouroCOM New York, but we recognized the need for customization to resonate with Montana's students," Lan explains. "We're modifying New York’s program to fit the unique needs of Great Falls High School and Charles M. Russell High School with plans to extend our reach to other schools." 

With a ratio of two mentors to one mentee, the program ensures personalized guidance and support for each participant. Mentor participation in the program is open to all TouroCOM Montana students.  

Associate Course Director, Public Health & Preventative Medicine, Dr. Heather Harvey, helped lay the groundwork for the program by developing connections and brainstorming with the Great Falls Public School system. Assistant Dean of Clinical Affairs, Dr. Stephanie Zeszutek, serves as faculty advisor of the program and helps oversee the development of the program and curriculum. Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Haley Denzer assists with the program's oversight and administrative and financial functions. 

One of the program's highlights is its immersive approach. Students engage in practical sessions led by medical students and supported by TouroCOM Montana faculty. From taking blood pressure to understanding cardiac health to learning about osteopathy, every session is a step toward a deeper understanding of the medical field.  

With the invaluable support of GFPS Superintendent Heather Hoyer, the program has successfully secured scholarships, ensuring that students who meet the criteria for the program can participate. 

“Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and its MedAchieve Montana program are valuable community partners,” said Hoyer. “Their desire and drive to connect with our community and local students are providing once-in-a-lifetime experiences to our students, building capacity and interest in the medical sciences that will enhance high school educational opportunities unique to Montana."  

Ali Getten is a Great Falls High School junior and a MedAchieve Montana mentee. "It has been such a fun experience getting to know the mentors,” said Ali. “My science teacher at GFH encouraged me to take advantage of this opportunity, and I am so glad I did.”  

MedAchieve Montana goes beyond academic enrichment; it fosters holistic growth. The program culminates with a graduation ceremony for the students, marking their achievements and celebrating their overall development. 

“The program addresses mental health awareness, learning strategies, and time management, preparing students for the journey ahead,” said Navneet Kaur, Vice President of the MedAchieve Montana program. "We're not just teaching them; we're learning from them. Furthermore, the program fosters lifelong mentorship. We're here for them, even beyond the program," Navneet assures. "Whether it's MCAT preparation or career guidance, we're just a call away." 

GFPS awarded TouroCOM Montana’s MedAchieve program with the Good Apple Award at the graduation. This award is given to an employee, volunteer, community member, or group to express appreciation and esteem. 

As the program gathers momentum, the backing from the community strengthens. Parents, teachers, and residents increasingly acknowledge the program's potential to mold the future cadre of medical professionals. "Our mission is evident—to bridge the gap between the community and the medical field while encouraging more Montana residents to enroll at TouroCOM Montana," Lan affirms. "We aspire to ignite the passion for medicine among the next generation of doctors in Montana."