The University of West Florida’s chapter of Health Occupation Students of America will continue on to the HOSA National Leadership Conference in late June.
Nine students from the organization competed at the Florida HOSA State Leadership Conference during the weekend of April 4 in Orlando, Fla. The students qualified for the state level at the regional competition that was held in January at Pensacola State College. Five of the nine students placed in the top three of their respective categories and will advance to the national competition.
HOSA is a national student organization, which fosters awareness of career opportunities in the health care industry and improves the quality of health care. HOSA is supported by the US. Department of Education and the Health Science Education Division of ACTE.
Students begin preparing for competition at the start of the academic year. Students must be a member of HOSA and express interest in competing to qualify. They choose from over 30 categories to compete in, including medical terminology, medical assisting and researched persuasive speaking. Preparation is a yearlong process and most of the categories that are offered involve textbook knowledge.
Camille Wood, a sophomore pre-professional biology major, placed first in biotechnology. The two round competition includes a written test on subjects like clinical chemistry and genetic engineering, followed by a performance-based test on skill procedures.
“As college students, we have a lot going on with classes and stuff,” Wood said. “It really is like taking another class. If you plan to do well, you have to study a lot.”
Each category varies in format of competition, from practical to speech and written. Buu-Tran Duong, a junior clinical laboratory sciences major and vice president of UWF’s HOSA, competed in extemporaneous speaking.
Duong prepared for the competition by listening to stories about health care issues on NPR. She said that even if some of the issues aren’t medical, “you are confident about the opinion that you have” because of the unbiased presentation that she believes is on NPR.
“I sat on the table and they gave me a slip of paper with a topic on it, and I had 10 minutes to create a speech,” Duong said. “They gave us tiny index cards, and after 10 minutes they tell you to stop, stand up and make the speech right afterward. I sort of drove 9 hours to do a 15-minute competition.”
For her speech, Duong said she introduced political topics about the consist need for medical professionals since people continuously get sick.
“The medical field will always have a good outlook,” she said.
Duong placed first in extemporaneous speaking and received the Barbara James Service Award for completing over 100 hours of community service.
Other students who placed in the top three were Keanna Nimpchaimanatham who won first in human growth and development, Matthew Parker who won third in physical therapy, and Dhivyaa Manickam who won third in medical reading.
Angela Hahn, health sciences assistant director at the university, is in her third year of advising UWF’s HOSA. Hahn served as the event coordinator for the biotechnology competition and as a judge for the public health competition at the state level. She said she does not know what role she’ll be taking on at the national level except for being a cheerleader and adviser to her students.
“I’m nervous and excited at the same time because I think that the five that I’m bringing have a lot of potential,” Hahn said.
The HOSA National Leadership Conference will be from June 26 through June 29 in Nashville, Tenn. Travel to the state and national competitions is and will be funded by the Student Government Association and the Alumni Association.