(Photo via twitter.com/SussexTech)
HOSA-Future Health Professionals (formerly Health Occupations Students of America) has figured out that everything is more exciting with a competitive element.
Its International Leadership Conference includes competitive job-seeking skills, prepared speaking, medical terminology challenges and what is known as the HOSA Bowl.
Sussex Tech High School did more than show up at the state-level HOSA competitions: Eight of its students won 14 awards and will be competing in the National HOSA Championship this June.
We caught up with a couple of the state winners — Jonathan Lee, a senior from Milford studying dental services, and Alyssa Bradley, a junior from Millsboro studying physical therapy-athletic health care.
One thing quickly becomes clear: All of this is less about something bigger than awards and glory.
“Since both Kent and Sussex County are HPSAs (Health Professional Shortage Areas), I am concerned for what lies in store for my community,” said Lee, in an email to Technical.ly. “With the number of people over the age of 65 doubling within the next twenty years, expansion within our healthcare system is crucial. These current and future issues contributed to my profound interest in public health.”
Bradley, who is competing in HOSA’s medical terminology competition, is looking to help kids.
“In my future, I plan to pursue Speech-Language Pathology and work in a school system,” she said. “I want to focus on helping children communicate, whether that is verbally or through communication devices.”
Lee, competing in job-seeking skills, also has an interest in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
“Growing up with two immigrant parents who both come from developing nations, I’ve seen the importance of maintaining proper oral health starting at a young age,” he said.
While some fear the U.S. will face a widespread medical care shortage in the coming decades, it’s nice to know that at least some young people are excited about the field: “It was eye-opening to see how many other high school students in Delaware are planning to pursue health care,” said Bradley.
"It is important to be open to branching out and experiencing new social norms and cultures. This is an essential part of health care."
“I find it both interesting and amazing how professionals are able to take an individual with a deficit, find the underlying condition, and help the individual find ways to solve his or her problem, whether that is through therapeutic exercises or finding the right device that will benefit the patient.” she said. “Speech-Language Pathology is an expanding field in healthcare and so many people around the world are using SLP services.”
What’s been the benefit of participating in HOSA? Lee said it’s been a personal game changer.
“Prior to competing in HOSA, I was a relatively shy kid who lacked confidence,” he said. “I wasn’t able to speak eloquently and would often mumble when spoken to. Job Seeking Skills has helped shape the manner in which I speak and carry myself. I no longer look past people I am speaking to in an effort to avoid eye contact. I don’t have to worry about being unable to carry on a conversation. This competition has helped me come out of my shell. It has taught me that the only way to break free from my inhibitions is to face them head on.”
As for what Lee, a three-time gold medalist at the Delaware HOSA State Leadership Conference, hopes to get out of the national competition in June, he speaks as if he lives and breathes the mission of HOSA — “To empower HOSA-Future Health Professionals to become leaders in the global health community through education, collaboration, and experience.”
“Born and raised in Southern Delaware, I never imagined I would have the opportunity to connect with students from other states and countries,” Lee said. “Through HOSA, I have been able to form relationships, and I still keep in contact with the multiple friends I’ve made throughout the years. Getting to know students from states such as Hawaii, Alaska, Texas, and South Carolina has given me an understanding of how diverse our society is.
“In relation to the rest of the United States, Delaware is just a tiny speck,” he said. “We’re only a fraction of the population, and it is important to be open to branching out and experiencing new social norms and cultures. This is an essential part of health care because throughout a health professional’s career, they will be caring for thousands of patients. Each patient has a unique story and background that distinguishes them from the rest of the world. I am grateful to say that HOSA has helped shape that understanding.”
The HOSA International Leadership Conference will take place June 19 to 22 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando.-30-
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