High school and college students to learn about health careers at leadership conference

April 03, 2014



Three hundred high school and college students statewide representing MassAHEC HOSA will convene at UMass Medical School on Saturday to participate in the 2014 State Leadership Conference, where they will participate in 21 competitions, nine hands-on clinic stations and four seminars.

The fifth annual conference is hosted by the Massachusetts Area Health Education Center Network (MassAHEC) at the Center for Health Policy and Research, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. MassAHEC serves as the state affiliate of HOSA-Future Health Professionals, a national membership-driven, student–led organization. Endorsed by the US Department of Education, MassAHEC HOSA is partially supported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“MassAHEC HOSA provides experiential opportunities in the health professions that most of these students would not have if it weren’t for this statewide program,” said UMass Medical School’s Sharon Grundel, MEd, the statewide advisor of the program. “At the annual conference they learn about different careers they were unaware of and can test the skills and knowledge they have gained.”

Jorge Sanchez, Jr., senior client service manager at UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, will deliver the keynote address.

“It can be an eye-opening experience, and it can help you decide what you want to go to college for,” Fitchburg High School senior and MassAHEC HOSA member Alaina Valcourt said of the conference. “There are endless possibilities in healthcare.”

Valcourt, who will deliver a presentation at the conference this Saturday about how to prepare for the HOSA National Leadership Conference, said the hands-on learning sessions are her favorite part of the conference. She has learned how to treat injuries in an emergency, create a fake tooth and stitch up a wound using pig feet.

This year’s conference will feature hands on stations in prosthetics and orthotics, vital signs, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, dentistry, the mobile simulation medical center and AED/EKG simulations. 

Lisa Morris, director of Cross Cultural Initiatives at MassAHEC, will lead a dynamic activity:  Bilingual Healthcare Bingo! The interactive game tests students’ language skills using medical terminology in one of five languages. Students will also participate in speed networking with 20 health professionals from a variety of fields. 

MassAHEC HOSA member Nicole Pinard, a freshman at UMass Amherst with aspirations to become a midwife, said she enjoys the speed networking portion of the conference because it highlights the many paths professionals take to reach careers in the medical field.

“It was interesting to me to see the different creative ways they got into healthcare,” Pinard said. “It really reassured me that I always had options no matter what I focused on in undergrad.” 

MassAHEC HOSA has increased statewide access to enhanced educational opportunities in healthcare to hundreds of high school and college students. HOSA’s three-tier model promotes academic success, service to the community, and leadership opportunities.

“Being a member of MassAHEC HOSA has helped me develop the networking skills I needed,” said Jennifer Stone, an adult student at Bunker Hill Community College who works as a dialysis technician and has plans to become a nurse. Stone also said she learns from fellow MassAHEC HOSA members regardless of age. “They’re very inspirational.”