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Florida RTs Reach Out to Bright Young Minds at HOSA Conference

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June 26, 2012

Jamy Chulak

By Jamy Chulak,

Valencia College students once again partnered with the AARC to be a part of the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) National Leadership Conference. The conference was held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, FL, June 20-23.

This conference is comprised of high school students whose education is focused on health care careers. We were fortunate to represent the AARC for the second time in three years. Our entire class of 2012, 26 students who graduate in August, signed up to participate in the three day event. Kim Harvey, director of clinical education at Valencia College, volunteered to serve as a judge during the 2012 HOSA competition as well.

HOSA has around 120,000 members nationwide, through 47 state associations and 3,200 secondary and post-secondary chapters. This large organization has provided students an opportunity to explore health related fields at an early age.


Hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees continuously poured into the vendor hall throughout the three days of the meeting. The respiratory care booth was once again one of the more popular booths, with our engaging students paying it forward.

The bright young attendees were excited to be able to intubate our manikin, hold a pig lung that was being ventilated, experience chest physiotherapy, and get an SpO2 check. They also came away with a lot of valuable information provided by our group and the AARC.


It was especially exciting to get return visitors who wanted to challenge themselves at intubating—or gross out a friend by holding the pig lung. Comments like, “I heard about this booth!” were all too common. It was fun.


Many of the attendees were very impressed with the scope of practice described by our students here in the Orlando area. Intrigue grew as we explained how we work directly with physicians in surgical, medical, and emergency settings while caring for patients when they need us most. We talked about how patients with COPD, along with the aging baby boomers, will impact the future demand for health care in general and our profession in specific, raising a curious eye among many of these high school students.


While the majority of these young students were certainly familiar with the field of respiratory care, health careers as physicians, nurses, and EMT/paramedics, as well as dental hygienists, had captured their minds early in their education. We hope we changed a few of those minds during this three day event. These students are focused, driven, and interested in enhancing “the delivery of quality health care to all people.”


The annual HOSA conference is a great place to connect with high school students interested in health care careers, but we all need to reach out to our local HOSA chapters as well to describe how a future in respiratory care can be fulfilling to these young bright minds. Our future may depend on them!          
Jamy Chulak is the respiratory care program chair at Valencia College in Orlando, FL.