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story.lead_photo.caption The Sentinel-Record/Grace Brown SKILLS AT WORK: Gravette High School students Austyn Russell, left, and Gabbi Scott participate in the CPR competition during the Arkansas HOSA State Conference at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Thursday. Students from 35 different schools across the state completed written tests, presented research and competed in various activities, as well as workshops, and will receive awards today at 10:30 a.m. during a closing ceremony.

Around 750 medical professions students from 35 schools across the state gathered at the Hot Springs Convention Center Thursday to showcase their skills at the annual Arkansas HOSA State Conference.

HOSA, Health Occupations Students of America, is an international organization working to promote career opportunities and enhance the quality of health care, and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education Division.

State HOSA Director Barbara Dimon said HOSA is very similar to Future Business Leaders of America, but with a focus on health care.

"What FBLA is to business, HOSA is to health care kids," she said. "Kids that want to get into med school, kids that want to get into nursing school. At least 50 percent, if not more, are getting concurrent credit. They take pharmacy classes, pathology, CNA, anatomy and physiology. A lot of them leave high school with their CNA."

According to Kathi Turner, deputy director for the Department of Career Education, the agency is starting to push for industry certifications.

"We're no longer doing an end-of-course test, but we're doing an industry certification," she said. "They get that college credit, industry certification, and calling it a value-added diploma."

Dimon said while most students involved are in high school, this is the first year she has one middle school student registered. Students from Arkansas Career and Technical Institute are also involved in the conference, she said.

Students completed written tests in the morning and attended various workshops and competitions in the afternoon. Drs. Kevin Rudder and Brian Wallace spoke to students and demonstrated a repair in an orthopedics workshop, as well.

Awards will be given during a closing ceremony today at 10:30 a.m. But students will take away much more from their experience than a certificate or a grade, Dimon said.

"I have seen very shy people come out of their shell when they start competing, so it is a way to kind of give them more self-confidence," she said. "It shows them the impossible is not just a dream."

The state and national competitions allow students to gain experience for their personal and professional lives outside the medical field.

"I tear up when I say this, but we had one kid at nationals in Anaheim, Calif., who when we took a big group out to eat at The Cheesecake Factory, this child said they had never sat down at a restaurant before," she said. "It was so eye-opening, for me, to get to experience somebody experiencing that for the first time.

"A lot of the comments from the advisers are just across the board they wish they'd had something like this when they were in school."

This, Turner said, is what the professional organizations through her department are all about.

"What an organization like this actually does is teach students the skills that employers want," Turner said. "It may not be listed in the curriculum, but we teach them how to behave in a restaurant and we teach them how to work on a team with good communication. Usually, at this type of event, employers will say 'That's the one I want to hire.' That's what this does for kids and employers because our programs teach the soft skills and professional skills necessary to be successful in the workplace."

Local on 03/09/2018

Print Headline: Med students compete at HOSA

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