School organization directs students to healthcare industry

A new organization is quickly developing at Hettinger High School, one that takes students around the medical field, exploring future career options.


By COLE BENZ | Record Editor |

A new organization is quickly developing at Hettinger High School, one that takes students around the medical field, exploring future career options.

HOSA Future Health Professionals is an organization that gives students a view into a multitude of healthcare career opportunities.

“It’s a very new organization,” said Christi Miller, North Dakota Advisor who also acts as Hettinger’s Chapter Advisor.

Started in 1976 the organization had 48 chapters in 2013-2014 with locations in the United States, Puerto Rico and internationally in Italy. Recently they have opened chapters in Canada.

The organization is similar to the Future Business Leaders of America, in that it gives students exposure to different healthcare aspects so they can make a career choice early on, and give them a chance to change their mind if they get into the job and see that they won’t enjoy the work.

The Future Health Professionals group previously covered only the traditional healthcare occupations, but in recent years has expanded to many of the lesser-known careers the health industry can offer including accounting in healthcare, veterinarian sciences and even healthcare photography.

Currently North Dakota has nine chapters and received their charter prior to the 2013-2014 school year. In order to gain a charter, the state must have at least five active chapters. By acquiring the charter the state is then recognized at the national level.

The main objective of the group is to drive kids to the healthcare professions early and often, and now they are trying to get to them earlier and more often by allowing the junior high kids to join the high school chapter.

“We take kids who have an interest in healthcare and we come in and say ok, you guys have some interest in it (healthcare), now let’s figure out if you really like it,” Miller said.

Miller has been involved with the organization since it came to North Dakota in 2012—the first chapters didn’t start until 2013.

Miller said that Hettinger High School alumnus Cassie Andress was the driving force in getting the Hettinger chapter off the ground. Andress approached Miller with the desire, and Miller let her run with it. Before she knew it the group was already operating with by-laws laid out, and by October 2014 the group was in operations.

Andress said she didn’t even think about getting into a healthcare profession, but when she needed to job shadow someone, she was encouraged by family to look into speech pathology. She instantly took to it, and then she wanted to find a way to further her experience, even before she continued her education.

The Future Health Professionals organization is supported through another state entity, the North Dakota Area Health Education Center.

HOSA and the North Dakota Area Health Education Center form a symbiotic relationship with each other. HOSA encourages kids to look toward the healthcare industry for a career, where the Area Health Center helps in bringing healthcare professionals to the rural areas. The Area Health Education Center group also assists students in picking and navigating students through programs.

Along with holding monthly meetings, the group also participates in competitions. Members compete in a wide range of events, and there is a state level and a national level.

Though part of the competition includes testing, most of the scoring is based on the skills portion of the category. It’s through the skills portion that gives the students their experience.

For example, some categories—such as medical photography—really get the students ingratiated into the profession. They are required to go through HPAA training, adhere to the hospital’s dress code, approach both physician and patients, and eloquently describe the photo and what is going on in the setting. Something students need to do in a real life occupation.

Andress herself scored well at the both levels of the competition, placing in the top 10 at the national level in Anaheim, Calif.

“She did very well,” said Miller.

Andress participated in the extemporaneous writing category, and she was charged with recruiting a fictional person to join the Future Health Professionals group, and the only information given to her was a short biography supplied to her.

She knew she had a good paper, but didn’t’ know it was good enough for a top 10 finish, she didn’t know how the judges would take her answer.

Though she was only able to participate in the organization for one year due to graduation, she would encourage others to get involved and take advantage of the experience.

“It opens up to so many opportunities, and so many networks,” Andress said. “I’ve experienced much through HOSA and learned so much, and about the different healthcare careers that I didn’t even know existed.”

She also added that it gives students perspective on some career options, with out dedicating a large amount of time and education on something they may not enjoy.

So what does the future hold for the Future Health Professionals?

Miller said three new chapters are already set to begin in August, and in Hettinger they are looking at allowing even younger students to participate in the group.