Health Care Group Takes a Holistic Approach
Volunteer Experience, Competitions Encourage a Broad Career Focus
Sept. 2, 2009
Being a pre-health student hasn’t gotten any easier.
Students must immerse themselves in an integrative, scientific study of biology, health and medicine. In these complicated times, they also need to learn the psychological, social, historical, legal, philosophical and economic aspects of health care — essential knowledge for understanding such timely topics as the health care reform debate.
What’s the best way to navigate this seeming labyrinth of knowledge without becoming overwhelmed?
“Participation in an organization like Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) can make a big difference for students in terms of a more-holistic approach to pursuing goals that are related to a health care career,” said Dr. Scott Wright, director of the Health Professions Advising Center. “It gets them focused on developing themselves mentally, socially and interpersonally.”
“One reason people join HOSA is to get volunteer experience,” said Karan Patel, president of the UT Dallas chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America. “We connect with hospitals such as Presbyterian Dallas and Parkland. Medical schools want to see a well-rounded student, not just somebody who is great in academics.”
Students who participate in HOSA attend state and national conferences, where they participate in a wide variety of competitions related to health care, including, among many others, medical spelling, medical terminology, pharmacology, human growth and development, medical reading and nursing assisting. “In my mind, the key to HOSA is the level of competition in which the students are involved,” said Wright. “It provides them with another element of intellectual development.”
Patel, who is pursuing a bio-chemistry degree with a minor in business administration, agrees with Wright’s assessment. “It gets you thinking on your feet,” he said. “I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to get independent and to see what’s out there in the health career field.”
The UT Dallas chapter of HOSA recently earned a trip to HOSA’s 2009 National Leadership Conference in Nashville, from which Patel and fellow students Rebekah Joseph and Bejoy Thomas returned with a second-place medal in the creative problem-solving competition. Other winners included Shubham Manchanda and Shaghayegh Ababaf, who took second and third place respectively in the medical-math competition and Jillian Catral, who took third in the medical spelling competition.
“Success in competition gives everybody a confidence boost in what they want to do in their lives and careers,” said Patel. With the challenges they will face in pursuing a health care career, an organization like HOSA might just give them the edge they need to successfully navigate the maze.