The gown-clad mannequin was in need of a back rub.
“How are you feeling?” Desoto High School senior Gloria Macario softly asked the dummy before she applied lotion to her hands and began gently kneading its back.
Macario was a model of tender-loving care, not even flinching when the mannequin’s arm flopped off of the bed onto a side table.
The high school senior was one of roughly 450 students competing Thursday morning at Manatee Technical College’s East Campus in the HOSA Future Health Professionals Regional Competitive Events Conference. Students from six counties gathered to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a variety of medical-related fields, including nursing, home health aid, dental science and massage therapy.
“You have to remember all the steps,” Macario said. “You have to make sure the patient feels good.”
The processes of giving a patient a backrub, changing a gown or cleaning dentures may be simple in concept, but each involved several steps. Macario and the other competitors have spent weeks learning the rudimentary principles of the health field that interests them so they could demonstrate their mastery.
Other students, dressed in business-professional attire rather than the scrubs Macario wore, delivered presentations to panels of judges about various issues within medicine.
HOSA is a national organization that provides training for middle school, high school and college-level students interested in entering the medical field. HOSA was originally conceived as an acronym standing for “Health Occupations Students of America,” but in 2004 the organization eliminated the acronym and changed its name to HOSA: Future Health Professionals.
You have to make sure the patient feels good.
- Desoto High School senior Gloria Macario
The competition has grown larger every year, said Kim Bland, the region 5 HOSA advisor, and Manatee County always has a strong representation. HOSA has chapters at every high school and three middle schools in the county, and Bland estimated that roughly 300 of the 450 participants at Thursday’s event were from Manatee. And, she said this year’s competition was the largest in the event’s history.
“Every year I see an increase of 50 to 75 students,” Bland said. “Every year is bigger than the previous.”
Bland, who is also MTC’s Dental Assistant Program director, said HOSA was a great recruiting tool for medical programs within the technical college.
“I get a lot of students coming to MTC who chose our program because of HOSA,” Bland said. “I’ve seen a lot of middle school kids come up and graduate and go on to medical or dental school.”
Brittany Davis, a Manatee High School senior with hopes of one day being a cardiothoracic surgeon, was participating in the competition. She had to change a gown of a patient with an arm wound as part of her scenario.
She said competing in the HOSA competition prepared her for future schooling necessary to become a surgeon.
“I probably have a bunch of tests coming my way soon and may have a situation thrown at me where I just have to take charge and do it,” Davis said. “When they tell you that you are doing something wrong, you have to take it and not let you bring you down.”
Winners from Thursday’s event will compete in Orlando for the state-level HOSA competition in April.