Students gain medical experience through international organization

Freddie Wilhelm | Staff Writer

Students are hoping they come down with a case of victory at the Health Occupations Students of America state competition.

HOSA is an international organization which allows students to compete in various competitions pertaining to the medical field. The competition is comprised of 40 events ranging from public speaking to written tests and spelling. Senior Captain Olivia Hazel said HOSA is a fantastic opportunity to prepare potential medical students for college-level courses.

“If you have an idea of what specialty you want to go into after high school, it’s an awesome competition,” Hazel said. “It is an overarching precursor of what a college class might be. It’s getting a good jump start in your career and gives a good idea of what you want to do.”

Mason’s HOSA program was formed last year by Principles of Biomedical Science teacher Susan Maldonado. With the program’s second year well underway, Maldonado said she started HOSA to give students real-world application of medical sciences.

“I started HOSA four years ago at Harrison High school; when I moved to Mason, I started it here,” Maldonado said. “I was looking for an opportunity where my students can see what other kids are doing in their fields and compete with peers. We tried doing SkillsUSA, which we thought was too easy. HOSA gave us an opportunity to compete in medical fields and experience leadership with workshops and guest speakers.”

Sophomore vice president Katherine Moseley said Maldonado, who last year was recognized as an outstanding coach at the state level, has been a big factor in their achievements.

“Last year, we didn’t know too much about HOSA since it was our first year as a team and our first year with Mrs. Maldonado,” Moseley said. “Now, this year, we’re more excited for HOSA, and we’re far more motivated to study, and it should lead to more kids at internationals.”

Senior president Olivia Hazel said her older members will help the team at the state competition this year due to their added experience.

“I think we’re going to do very well at state because we have older kids than (we did) last year,” Hazel said. “Last year, we took a lot of kids, but they were freshmen, and they’re sometimes competing with college kids. The program runs from middle school to post-secondary, but a lot of the competitors are juniors and seniors.”

Mason’s HOSA team heads out for state on April 20. Moseley said they are looking to qualify more students to the international level where other countries will compete against American students in Disney.

“We did amazing at regionals,” Moseley said. “We’re taking about 60 kids to state this year, and last year, we took about 30, and hopefully, we can take a lot of kids to internationals in Disney this year.”

With the team looking to qualify more competitors for the international competition in Orlando, there comes a time where financial means become necessary for the club. Even with the club’s current sponsors, Maldonado said the team needs all the help they can get.

“We need a lot of financial support because we need to pay money for the uniforms and hotels,” Maldonado said. “We are currently supported by (Scarlet Oaks) who pays our airfare, which is huge, but we still have a lot of stuff to pay for. This year, internationals is at Disney, which will make it more expensive, so we need to find more money and sponsors for our program.”

With the state competition in sight, Maldonado said she is incredibly confident of her student’s ability to make it to the international competition this summer.

“I’m taking 65 kids to states, and I’m counting on a lot of kids going to internationals,” Maldonado. “There’s also a lot of outside work that has to be done by myself and the kids. These kids have been preparing since September. It’s a lot of work, and I wish them all the best at state.”