UMass Medical School hosts career awareness conference for Massachusetts students
MassAHEC HOSA conference

Students participating in the MassAHEC HOSA Student Leadership Conference gave poster presentations about their career of interest.
Click here to view a slideshow of the conference.

May 10, 2010

At UMass Medical School on May 8, area high school students got a taste of what types of jobs are available in the health care industry. Members of Massachusetts chapters of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) organization participated in the state’s first HOSA Student Leadership Conference, which focused on promoting health care careers. HOSA is a national student organization with the mission of enhancing the delivery of quality health care by promoting career opportunities in health care to young people. The Massachusetts chapters are part of a new partnership between HOSA and the Massachusetts Area Health Education Centers (MassAHEC) Network, which raises health career awareness by inspiring and training a diverse range of health professionals to practice in communities where the need is greatest.

The day-long conference featured interactive learning and competitions. Students gave science-fair style poster presentations that featured their research about their career of interest. The presentations were judged by Warren Ferguson, MD, vice chair and associate professor of family medicine & community health, and Michael Hirsch, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics and chief of pediatric surgery and trauma for UMass Memorial Health Care. “It is refreshing to see kids going beyond their comfort zone to participate and excel in these events,” said Sharon Grundel, MEd, manager of workforce development for MassAHEC and MassAHEC HOSA coordinator. “HOSA gives young people interested in health care similar encouragement and recognition enjoyed by peers engaged in other extracurricular activities like sports and student government.”

Other conference highlights included “Speed Dating for Health Careers,” tours of a LifeFlight helicopter and the Emergency Department at UMass Memorial Medical Center, and hands-on clinical demonstrations. Gina Smith, RN, director of emergency preparedness for UMass Memorial and commander of UMMS Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT-MA2), gave a presentation about a recent DMAT mission in Haiti.

The MassAHEC HOSA collaboration has been launched to promote academic-community partnerships that increase student access to health career education, field experiences and community service learning. “MassAHEC focuses efforts on increasing the diversity of the health care workforce and HOSA’s goal is to increase the health care workforce overall,” explained Grundel, adding that many HOSA leadership activities address the full scope of career development skills, including persuasive public speaking and creative problem solving. “Our missions are complementary.”

To date, MassAHEC HOSA boasts seven chapters with 86 student members. The largest organization operating in America’s high schools for students enrolled in health occupations and health sciences programs and those interested in pursuing a career in the health professions, HOSA works closely with local and state educators to build a pipeline to attract qualified students to the health care industry.

Utilizing bridges already built by MassAHEC, this partnership promises to expand and enrich tomorrow’s health care workforce by forging links between MassAHEC HOSA and the broad health care community. “Our affiliation with HOSA allows us to reach and serve more pre- and post-secondary schools with the same type of professional development for health sciences students and educators that we offer via other AHEC programs,” said MassAHEC Director Linda Cragin, MS.