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AARC Represented at Annual Student Convention

Jamy Chulak

Jamy Chulak, BS, RRT

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Program Director Jamy Chulak and his students at Valencia Community College in Orlando represented the AARC and respiratory care profession at the annual HOSA convention. The Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) is a highly participatory, active student organization in high schools across the country. Each year the AARC mans a booth at their annual meeting.

Valencia Students Pay it Forward at HOSA Event
by Jamy Chulak, BS, RRT

I have to admit, “What is HOSA?” was among the first questions that came to mind after discussing the possibility of partnering with the AARC at Disney’s Coronado Springs for the 2010 HOSA Conference. It did not take long to find HOSA online, at http://www.hosa.org and discover this national leadership conference is 100% healthcare oriented. What a great venue to discuss the profession of Respiratory Care to prospective candidates and who better to discuss their own stories about choosing our field than Valencia Community College’s 2010 graduating class.

It became apparent that caliber of high school student, dedicated to the healthcare career choice in front of them, was exactly who we should be speaking to regarding the future of our profession. This national conference brought students to Orlando from all areas of the country. The curiosity, compassion, and possibility of a profession in healthcare lingered on the hopes and dreams of each student who passed the AARC booth. Most discussions began with questions from our Valencia students such as, “Have you heard of Respiratory Care?” This was usually followed by a positive acknowledgment and recital of the respiratory system, which then required some clarification, “Have you heard of the Respiratory Care Profession?” Many of these high school students demonstrated resolve in their understanding in our profession and yet a commitment to other health science professions such as Nursing, EMT/Paramedic, and Dental Hygiene. WHAT?

This highlights the challenge we have in our profession. The brightest and most dedicated student, interested in healthcare, still has reservations, already made a choice or a lack of understanding of what we do. It is not all lost. The AARC booth was among the busiest and most interactive booths at the conference. Our primary competition came from the U.S. Army military tent (HUGE), which housed a Laerdal Simman, push-up/pull-up challenge, and recruiters in uniform. We countered with our own transport ventilator delightfully attached to an actual pig lung demonstrating the “power of positive pressure”. I do not know if this mystified the career minded students but it certainly grossed them out a bit, but in a good way. They all loved it! This attracted counselors, instructors, students and other vendors whose curiosity eventually won them over.

Beyond the lung lay informational material provided for each participant but they suddenly found themselves being assessed by our students. Breath sounds were hard to come by but everybody wanted to have their oxygen saturation checked out with eager anticipation to explain away any fatigue rendered by the excitement of the days in conference. We used a portable SpO2 monitor, which traveled throughout the vendor hall with a pair of Valencia students and a bedside monitor at our booth. Needless to say, many of these students were at or near 100%.

The crowds gathered as student, instructor, and counselors alike tested themselves by attempting to place an advanced airway at our intubation station. The students were eager and excited to have the opportunity to intubate. Instructors were revisiting their days in the community when they had to call out “RESPIRATORY!” when an airway emergency arose. The advisors were simply stunned that we, Respiratory Care, do this sort of thing. We reminded them all, for comfort, “You cannot hurt this manikin—take a stab at it.” Each Valencia student provided a little instruction, support, and feedback and the participants were intrigued. Many intubated well, some right main stem, and a few esophageal placements but that did not deter the participants. It was common to have participants dragged to our booth by a previous visitor. It was an exciting day for all of us.

We had a wonderful time at this leadership conference. This HOSA conference was an excellent display of where our future healthcare workers can be reminded of the Respiratory Care profession as a critical and significant option to meet the future challenges within our healthcare population.