PCHS HOSA students get a peek inside the medical field
Mary Purzycki, a teacher at Park City High School, was nervous about how well the school’s Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) club would perform at the Utah state competition last month.
Many of the students who participated in the competition last year had graduated, and Purzycki was uncertain how her crop of 12, mostly new students would fare against the hundreds of students from the dozens of schools they’d be facing.
As it turned out, Purzycki had little to worry about. Students from PCHS finished in the top 10 in five categories of the competition: CNA, seventh-place (Sabrina Smith); biomedical laboratory sciences, third place (Tatianna Francejl); CERT, second place (Bre Cartwright and Macy Bedford); forensic medicine, eighth place (Bedford and Julia Morelli); and public service announcement, third place (Smith, Amy Fuller and Mikayla Aikin).
"They exceeded expectations," Purzycki said.
But more than an opportunity to show off their skills at the state competition, HOSA has proven to be a valuable place for the students to explore careers in the medical field and hone the skills they’ll need once they enter it — not to mention an avenue for networking.
Many of the students in PCHS’s club say participating has been a highlight of the school year.
"For me, it’s the people," said Bre Cartwright, a HOSA student. "I was kind of forced into this by one of my friends, and I absolutely fell in love with the people and the experience of going to state with them and making the memories with them."
For Sabrina Smith, who is taking a class to become a certified nursing assistant, developing the abilities she’ll use in a medical career has been the most valuable part of participating in HOSA. She’s also gotten a look at what career paths may be open to her.
"I know I want to do something in the health care field, but I’m not quite sure exactly what," she said. "It helps me explore things in different areas, even if it’s not, like, directly being a doctor or a nurse."
Purzycki said getting a hands-on look at what life in the medical world is really like is one of the most common reasons students join the club. She added that students of all types participate, describing HOSA as "very diverse."
"Some of them really want to be nurses, some of them are thinking about going to medical school and some of them aren’t really sure what they want to do," she said. "But they get to see what the different aspects are."
Even students who don’t want to go into medicine can flourish in HOSA. Participating looks good on a college resume, and some of the things students learn are applicable in a variety of fields. For instance, in one competition event, students are tasked with writing a public service announcement, testing not their medical knowledge but rather their communication skills.
Perhaps above all, the club allows students to forge connections with people they otherwise would have never met. That can pay dividends down the road as they enter college and, later, the workforce.
"This is the networking generation," Purzycki said, "and they need to know how to do that."
But to the students, it doesn’t even feel like networking — to them, it’s just making friends.
"I got to meet so many people that have the same interests as me and compete against them," said Emily Haaijer. "It was just such a good experience. I just love it. Now I have new friends from different schools, and they all want to do the same thing as me."
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