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Tennessee RTs Network with High School Students at HOSA Conference

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July 16, 2013

Most high school students don’t have a clue what they want to be when they grow up, but that’s not the case for those who belong to the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA). Somewhere along the way these young people developed an interest in health care, and they know they want to do something in that field. The question is, what?

That’s where the annual HOSA conference comes in. Students from all across the country gather for the three day event, and as it has every year for the past decade or so, the AARC hosted a booth at the most recent conference at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN, this time ably represented by volunteers from three Tennessee RT programs.

Hands on activities

“I felt the experience would give my students an opportunity to talk to the high schoolers about what they know and help them develop patient instruction and education skills,” says R. David Johnson, RRT, program director at Columbia State Community College in Columbia. “We gave the attendees the opportunity to intubate, connect themselves up to a heart monitor, measure their peak flow, and wear the Vest.”  

Johnson divided his respiratory care students up into three groups, with each assigned to work the booth for three hours on their assigned day. “Prior to the convention I emphasized to my students they needed to not only instruct on how to do a particular activity but to also explain what it did and when it would be used.”

He believes the hands on activities went a long way to helping the kids open up about their future plans. “Putting on the Vest, intubating the manikin, etc., was an effective springboard to talk about the profession,” says the educator. “Many students also talked about health issues of friends or family or wanting a career in health care.”

While some had heard of respiratory care before, for many this was their first exposure to the profession.

Meet and greets with teachers, parents too

Cory Martin, EdS, RRT-ACCS, RRT-NPS, CPFT, program director at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, couldn’t bring his students this year (they were in a board review class) but made the trip himself to cover another day of the meeting.

“Each year I attend HOSA there is always a very favorable response from not only the HOSA students, but teachers and parents who chaperone the event,” he says. “This year I found almost as many HOSA parents and teachers arriving to the AARC booth as students.”

He says getting the chance to visit with the high school teachers, and most especially the parents, is particularly useful in that these are the adults who will help the kids understand what they really need to do to successfully enter a health care profession.

“It’s natural for both parents and teachers to assist in career planning and goal setting for those who are approaching college entrance, so HOSA is an excellent occasion to speak to those who are very focused on what respiratory care has to offer as a profession,” says Martin.

Small world

Chris Hamilton, DHSc, RRT, assistant professor and director of clinical education at Tennessee State University in Nashville, says she set up a spirometry screening and a pulse oximeter on the day she covered the booth to offer some interactive features for the attendees–and also had a bowl of candy available, which helped to draw the students over to see what was going on.

Like Martin, her students were otherwise engaged on that day so she manned the booth by herself, but she believes she still made a positive impact on those she met. “I had a very favorable reaction from the high school students and counselors that I visited with,” says the educator.

She also found out what a small world it really can be when it comes to respiratory care. “My favorite experience was meeting two respiratory therapists who are now health education teachers/HOSA advisors, one from Texas and one from Georgia,” says Dr. Hamilton. “They were thrilled to see respiratory therapy being promoted and gladly took the recruiting brochures with them to take back to their high schools.”

Students from Columbia State Community College in Tennessee engaged HOSA attendees with a variety of hands-on demonstrations.

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