Northern Regional Hospital Sponsors Student Competition of ‘HOSA-Future Health Professionals’
Northern Regional Hospital is sponsoring the 2019 annual competition of the “HOSA-Future Health Professionals” organization on Saturday, November 16, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, at Mount Airy High School. The regional competition is expected to attract nearly 500 high-school students who, as members of HOSA, are interested in pursuing jobs in the healthcare industry. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in healthcare and enhance the delivery of quality health care. Since its inception in 1976, the international student-led organization now boasts more than 245,000 members in the United States and throughout the world.
“This is our first time partnering with HOSA; and we look forward to an exciting competitive event that will showcase the enthusiasm and promise of young people who plan to enter the rewarding world of healthcare following their specialized education and training,” said Chris A. Lumsden, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern Regional Hospital. “HOSA’s mission fits comfortably with the commitment of Northern Regional Hospital to develop and/or align with organizations and programs that can help us develop the next generation of healthcare leaders.”
As part of Northern’s sponsorship, dozens of the hospital’s clinical specialists – including doctors, nurses, technicians and administrators – will serve as volunteer judges for the students’ participation in multiple individual and group challenges. The regional contests, which cover a broad range of health-related topics, test students’ knowledge and skills in such areas as Medical terminology, CPR/First Aid, Creative Problem Solving, and Sports Medicine. There’s even a Jeopardy-like “HOSA Bowl” – where contestants rapidly pit their knowledge of health-related topics against one another. (Regional competitions are followed by state and then international events.)
Northern Hospital physicians and employees will also set-up and staff 18 specialty-designated ‘stations’ in the school’s gymnasium where students can get information and, in some cases, hands-on “clinical” experience using sophisticated medical equipment and life-like mannequins that simulate actual patient conditions via preprogrammed scenarios. “Through our various stations, students can gain exposure to a variety of specialty divisions and services within the hospital environment – such as Emergency Medicine, Intensive Care, Respiratory Therapy, the Laboratory, Pharmacy, and Nutrition Services,” said Daniel Combs, RN, BSN, EMT-P, RN, who manages Student Programs for Northern Regional Hospital. “HOSA represents another important avenue for us to reach out to students and encourage their interest in health-related professions – including non-clinical fields such as computer science, biomedical research, medical engineering, and informatics.”
HOSA Comes to Mount Airy
A HOSA group has been active in Mount Airy since about 2004 — when Lynn Snow, RN, a well-respected Health Science teacher at Mount Airy High School, launched a local chapter with just two members. “As I looked into HOSA, I realized its goals were consistent with my own teaching efforts to promote self-esteem, leadership skills, teamwork, and networking among students interested in health-related careers,” she said. “Today, our local HOSA chapter averages about 50 to 60 members each year; and, for the past seven years, we have been represented at the regional, state, and now international levels of the organization,” she says proudly.
Over the past 15 years, Snow has served in multiple leadership roles with HOSA-Future Health Professionals, including Chair of the Board of Directors of HOSA-North Carolina. In her current role as Chapter Advisor, Snow emphasizes that HOSA is a student-led organization. “I give them the support and tools they need to run the chapter, but then stand back and watch them grow – individually and collectively.”
Snow also credits one of her current students, 17-year-old Ashton Rierson, with significantly boosting the local membership and broader image of HOSA. “Quite honestly, I’m proud of him and in awe of him,” she says of her young protégé. “He’s driven and focused; and it’s no surprise that he was elected to serve as president of our region.”
Young Man on the Move
Ashton Rierson’s slight runner’s build, quiet countenance, and polite manner belie his steely strength, stamina, and laser-like focus on achieving his individual and team goals within the HOSA organization … and in life.
The teen dynamo works diligently and tirelessly to promote the mission of HOSA so that others, like himself, may gain additional exposure to the ever-changing world of healthcare and the rich variety of health-related careers embedded in the industry. “I’ve always tried to help others; and through my efforts with HOSA, I can help fellow students identify and follow their career dreams, too,” he says. In his various leadership positions with HOSA, Rierson has spoken to audiences numbering 3,000 people, travelled to several states to oversee competitions, and met face-to-face with key legislators in Washington, D.C. to advocate for more funding for the organization.
Rierson’s professional goal is to become a medical doctor; specifically, an anesthesiologist. His initial fascination with medicine was fueled by his mother, a practicing nurse anesthetist at Northern Regional Hospital. That early fascination grew into a full-fledged commitment following his volunteer work at a local free clinic and a family trip to rural Honduras – where he witnessed first-hand that country’s lack of access to sophisticated medical care. “I tend to be a champion for the underdog – and, as a physician, I can be a strong advocate for patients,” he says.
To maintain and further expand his direct connection to the medical community, Rierson also joined the Junior Volunteer program at Northern Regional Hospital – where he has now logged more than 350 ––hours. “Ashton is an adult in a young person’s body,” laughs Tina L. Beasley, Volunteer Coordinator at Northern. “In fact, he’s the one who first approached us about the hospital’s sponsorship of HOSA – whose goals fit comfortably within our own culture of community-service and helping young people become better acquainted with job opportunities that exist in healthcare.”
Having Fun While Framing Futures
“We’re pleased to partner with HOSA for their regional competitive event because it serves as a creative and fun way to raise awareness about health-related jobs,” says Northern’s Dan Combs, whose management portfolio includes overseeing student programs.
Combs says he feels his background as both a paramedic and nurse has enhanced his ability to reach and teach students about healthcare. “I’m always happy to find ways for students to see what opportunities exist for them – especially when they say they’ve never been inside a hospital,” he says. “Through our junior volunteer and student internship programs, we give them the opportunity to be introduced to an environment of a busy, top-tier, patient-focused hospital. And now, in partnership with HOSA, we have another way to showcase the abundance of career opportunities that exist in healthcare.
“As an award-winning hospital and major employer, Northern Regional Hospital is naturally hard-wired to help young people discover what they like about healthcare so they may more confidently pursue a path dedicated to the care of patients,” adds Combs.