Burton Pollari is getting the opportunity to explore different aspects of the medical field by participating in a program called Med Start

Some young people have a pretty clear picture of what they want to do after high school while others tend to work it out after graduation. Burton Pollari is one of those who has a pretty good idea and the high school junior is already taking steps to make that happen.

Burton is enrolled in a program called Med Start which allows high school students to experience some of the things they will learn and do in the medical field.

Med Start is a Montana AHEC (Area Health Education Center) program designed to encourage high school students who are in sophomore and junior grade levels to pursue their interest in a variety of healthcare careers. It is supported through the Montana University System, Montana Tech, Carroll College, University of Montana, MSU-B, and Miles City Community College. There are many sponsors such as Big Horn Hospital Association, Billings Clinic, Billings Public Schools, Billings Works, BioScience Alliance, Darcy Lynn Dengel Foundation Inc, Dr. Joan Marie McMahon, Hinsdale Public Schools, Montana Gear Up, Montana HOSA, Toole County Health Foundation, TRIO, and Valley Oaks Resource Center. There are other sponsors as well. The other sponsors provide scholarships to students who qualify.

“I chose to participate in this program because it allowed me exposure and a head start on a medical career,” said Burton. “I have been considering a career in the medical field for the past few years. When I heard about the opportunity last winter, I applied and was excited that I was selected. This program is hands-on and has allowed me to see such a variety of ways to be a part of the medical field.”

Burton has already learned a few valuable skills. “I have learned the best spot to read a heart beat, how to inflate a collapsed lung and the different parts of a heart,” said Burton. “We have looked at x-rays of humans and learned about how animals have helped with the identification of infectious diseases.

Along with a few necessary skills, the program also allows participants to experience different types of medical careers. “I have also learned about different medical job options. I learned that you can go to school for as few as two years and as many as 8-10 years to earn a degree in the medical field.” Burton said he has already got to hear from a Surgical Tech, Physical Therapist, and a Veterinarian (who ended up pursuing a career in infectious diseases). “I have had the opportunity to be instructed by professors around the state. We even spent time with air ambulance personnel.”

The time with an air ambulance may help Burton the most if he follows through with one of his options.

“I am interested in Emergency Response, possibly through the Coast Guard. I have always like the idea of working with Air Ambulance, too,” said Burton.

Whatever path he chooses, Burton said his primary focus is in helping people. “This program has helped me see so many career possibilities and narrow my focus on a few specific careers.”

Burton will soon be making other choices as well, like what college to attend. “I am currently interested in looking at some colleges in Montana and North Dakota such as Montana Tech, Rocky, Carroll College, Minot State and the University of Mary.”

Burton said he wasn’t necessarily influenced by anyone in particular but there have been those who have inspired him by the way they care for their patients.

“There has not really been one specific person who has inspired me yet,” said Burton. “I do think that a few medical professionals from Billings Clinic care deeply for their patients and do a really good job at helping others. I have a deep respect for people who can respond in an instant, whether they are called to fight a fire or fly a helicopter/plane. I am impressed with how quickly a professional can respond in such a calm, prepared, and strategic way. That’s what inspires me.”

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, Burton’s first choice was not one that most teens or adults would have said. “I like to work, ski, fish, hunt, ride my dirt bike and spend time in the mountains.”

Burton is the son of Andy and Karen Pollari and has a brother, Josh.

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