By CHERIL VERNON
Palestine High School students involved in the Health Occupations Students of America organization placed in an area competition recently in various competitions ranging from forensic medicine, medical reserve corp partnership, health education, personal care and creative problem solving.
The event was the 2014 Texas HOSA Area Conference held Feb. 14-15 in League City.
“It's a medical competition with a lot of hands-on applications with the goal to transition them into healthcare careers,” said registered nurse Sandy Bristow, who is a health science instructor at PHS's Career Technology Education department. “These are competition skills that will help lead them into higher education in the healthcare field. Most of the kids who competing are wanting careers that require a bachelor's degree or associate's degrees.”
PHS student Christina Gibson, who wants to be a nurse in the future, placed second in the Personal Care competition.
“She had to take a patient's vitals — blood pressure, temperature and heart rate and record it in an electronic medical record, asking the standard questions,” Bristow said. “She also had to move her patient correctly from the bed to the wheelchair. Personal care is about taking care of your client.”
PHS students Jesi Dickey and Ashley Waldon placed third in the Medical Reserve Corp Partnership competition.
These students researched before the conference about whether or not Anderson County has a medical reserve corp and how it works. They learned that those part of the reserve corp locally would be paged out or deployed in an emergency situation. They learned how to contact the local group, as well as learning about disaster preparation.
The two also received CPR and first aid training. Locally, they are working on a campaign for getting young children immunized and understanding the importance of hand-washing.
The two also participated in the county's recent mock disaster for first responders and are working on finding industry partnerships — medical professionals who are willing to come into the classroom to share their knowledge, etc.
PHS students Sarah Singletary and Kari Missildine placed fifth in Health Education competition.
Before the competition, they had to choose a health education topic that would be good for Anderson County. They chose a unit on preventing the H1N1 flu and the importance of hand washing — working with the medical reserve corp students as well.
The Health Education competitors also made a display of books for children to read, showed a video on hand washing and taught children a song as part of their Health Education portfolio.
PHS students Kalin Roman, Olivia Cone and Valerie Rangel placed fifth in the Creative Problem Solving competition.
“These are for students who are interested in corporate careers in healthcare. They have to solve a real-world problem such as if there was an earthquake in Indonesia, do you have a response team? If you don't, how do you create a special response team?” Bristow said.
The students are then given 35 minutes to brainstorm together, then another 25 minutes to put a presentation together. The students then must give the presentation in front of seven judges on how a corporation would solve the problem they were asked to solve. Prior to the event, they had to take an online test that allows them to compete at the state level.
PHS students Jantel Lewis and Estella Zepeda placed sixth in the Forensic Medicine competition.
“They are given a crime scene. They receive the bag of evidence and the officer's report. They go in and try to determine the cause of death or whatever conclusions they can arrive at and the possible suspects,” Bristow said.
Lewis, a sophomore, also is in the running to be a national officer for HOSA. She will be vying for a spot at the HOSA State Conference March 27-29 in San Antonio. If selected, she would get to spend a week in Washington, D.C. this summer learning about the World Health Organization and the Surgeon General through the HOSA program.
“Jantel had to put together an eight-page portfolio and had to have letters from the community, as well as her academic achievements,” Bristow said. “She will have to speak with a panel of six at the state competition.”
Those running for election also will have five minutes to speak during the conference in front of 500 or more students participating. Every chapter across the state will get to choose a voting delegate that would best represent them at the national level.
Beyond the Conference
Besides competing at the HOSA conference, health science students at PHS have the opportunity to learn about several healthcare careers such as dental assistant and pharmacy technician.
“One of my students wants to be a pharmacy technician while she goes to school to become a pharmacist,” Bristow said. “Some of the healthcare classes we offer enable the kids to leave high school with good paying jobs, or jobs that can lead to another career in health care.”
Eventually, Bristow would like to see the addition of a licensed vocational nursing program to be offered at the school.
“Imagine that these students could graduate with their high school diploma and LVN license and be able to start make more than $20 an hour as a nurse,” Bristow said.
Bristow also works with students on workplace, computer and phone etiquette and work ethics.
“These are skills the kids need to get jobs, no matter what field they go into,” Bristow said.
Seven of her students will take the dental assistant exam this spring.
“I really appreciate (local dentist) Dr. (Tom) Witte for taking the time to work with our students. I have two students who get to go to his office to watch procedures. That's how industry partners can mentor these kids,” Witte said. “He really is encouraging to them that they can be not only dental assistants, but they can even become a dentist if they have the desire for it. It has a huge difference in the lives of these students.”
Three health science students will take the pharmacy technician state exams this spring.
“I'm also interested in having a medical assisting class where the students learn coding. We need industry professionals from local doctor offices, for example, to take in one student to mentor. They could come in and lecture about what they would expect when they hire someone,” Bristow said.
Bristow enjoys encouraging students — especially those who do not have plans or the means to attend college — to look further into healthcare professions.
“Many of the state exams can be taken online, and you don't necessarily have to go to a junior college for a few semesters in order to take it,” Bristow said. “They can sit for the state exams while they are still in high school and get a certificate before they graduate. That will enable them to be able to get better jobs.”
Other certificates also are available to students such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certificate and a food handling certificate.
“These are certificates that they can add to their resumes that may help when they are looking for a job,” Bristow said. “Employers would rather hire an employee that already has a certificate rather than paying for that person to attend that training.”
Some of her clinical students also will get a Basic Life Skills certificate.
The health science students also will be taking a field trip to the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science in Houston in the near future. The museum has a larger-than-life walking tour through the human body where participants can learn more about how major organs work, including a heart wall that explains the different functions of the heart and their importance.
“They are signed up for labs on DNA coding and structure and one for medical,” Bristow said.
For more information about the health science program, call PHS at 903-731-8005.