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

March 16, 2015

Two hundred sixty-seven high school and college students from across the state will participate in the 2015 MassAHEC HOSA State Leadership Conference April 11 at UMass Medical School to learn about careers in health care.

The sixth annual conference in Massachusetts will include 28 competitions, speed networking with more than a dozen health care professionals, presentations and 10 hands-on clinical stations. A National Institutes of Health scientist working in population health will participate via the Internet.  Also featured is a teleconferencing question-and-answer session with Hugo Quezada, the national president of HOSA.  AHEC (Area Health Education Center) and HOSA-Future Health Professionals (formerly Health Occupations Students of America) are both national organizations that promote career opportunities in health care.

The conference is hosted by the Massachusetts Area Health Education Center Network (MassAHEC), part of the Center for Health Policy and Research, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. MassAHEC HOSA is partially supported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Jaime F. Vallejos, MD, MPH, Health Careers Pipeline program manager and the statewide advisor of MassAHEC HOSA, said a significant shortage of health professionals is projected over the next 20 years. Students who pursue careers in the health field will play a role in the continued advancement of health reform.

“These students plan to pursue further education to become health care professionals,” Dr. Vallejos said. “These kids are focused and motivated to get on track with a career. We track them into college and it is exciting to see their success.”

Practicing Boston family physician Pablo Hernandez Itriago, MD, MHCM, FAAFP, assistant professor of family medicine at UMass Medical School and at Boston University School of Medicine, will deliver the keynote address.

The speed networking health care professionals include physicians, nurses, physical and respiratory therapists, pharmacists and behavioral health professionals, such as social workers. The students also will compete in activities to test their knowledge and skills, including medical photography, interviewing, sports medicine and dental science. Warren Ferguson, MD, MassAHEC’s medical director, will emcee the awards ceremony.

The hands-on stations include activities in veterinary medicine, respiratory therapy, emergency medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and prosthetics and orthotics led by health professionals and students from UMass Memorial Health Care, UMass Medical School, UMass Lowell, Quinsigamond Community College, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Becker College and local businesses. Linda J. Cragin, MS, director of the MassAHEC Network, will lead an interactive demonstration on the importance of hand washing and hygiene in the clinical setting.

Presentations include the UMass Baccalaureate-MD Pathway Program; Bilingual Healthcare Bingo!; College Bound: Making it a Reality!; Managed Care Pharmacy: A Nontraditional Role of a Pharmacist; Nursing, Beyond the Role; and Public Health as a Career Option.

More than 120 volunteers are donating their time to help make the conference a success.

MassAHEC HOSA, which has increased statewide access to educational opportunities in health care to hundreds of high school and college students, works to develop leadership and technical skills for future health professionals. The students who registered for the conference are from 16 high school and college chapters.