Annual meeting draws more than 1,000 future health professionals
Students from across the state who plan to enter the health profession convened for the 38th Arkansas HOSA State Leadership Conference Monday at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
HOSA-Future Health Professionals — once known as Health Occupations Students of America — is an international career and technical student organization that helps them become leaders in the health community through education, collaboration and experience.
The two-day event saw a jump of close to 350 members attend this year.
“We’ve got over 900 students and there’s over a thousand in attendance today,” Matt Burns, HOSA state adviser and director of the conference, said Monday morning.
HOSA International began during the early 1970s and Arkansas joined in 1984, Burns said, noting the Arkansas chapter has over 2,600 students and is part of about 250,000 nationwide.
“This conference is our annual state leadership conference. So we have students that are … the majority of them are in high schools across Arkansas. We also have some from middle school and a few from the college ranks,” he said.
Burns noted it is not only a conference, but a competition, as well. Students compete in such events as prepared speaking, medical terminology, and sports medicine competitions.
“We have 51 (competitions) today with over 900 students competing,” he said. “We’re doing workshops throughout the day — they’re going to have a blood drive that’s going on — so this conference is about getting these students involved in health care and getting them started in high school to make it to where they can
“Growth is a main theme when I think about HOSA. Not just in numbers, but in traits and skills and education.”
— Matt Burns, HOSA state adviser and conference director
transition to either a job out of high school or go to a postsecondary institution to get a college degree.”
The top three competitors in each event receive a medal and go on to compete at the HOSA International Leadership Conference in Dallas this June. Arkansas sent 100 HOSA members to last year’s event in Nashville, Tennessee.
During Monday’s opening session, State HOSA Vice President Nataleigh Lindsey, of Beebe High School, introduced the 2023-2024 state officer candidates. Following the session, competitive events and workshops were held throughout the day before the state officer election and state pin selection that evening.
From 8-10 p.m., a “GLOW Beyond All Limits Dance Party” was held in Horner Hall. The conference concludes today with the Anatomage Tournament Final Four and the Awards Ceremony.
Staff from MidSouth Orthopedics joined local orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Brent M. Lawrence, Monday afternoon to deliver a workshop in which students got to watch Lawrence perform surgery on a cadaver. State HOSA secretary, Lily Foster, of Mountain Home Career Academies, said students would then be able to observe and explore the cadaver during an extended workshop.
Industry partners in attendance gave students a chance to interact with numerous exhibits. One such exhibit was the Anatomage Table — a technologically advanced anatomy visualization system, in which students could observe the entire human anatomy in 3D from a biodigital human.
Students also competed in an Anatomage competition, testing their knowledge on all the systems in the human body.
Burns congratulated the students on being part of the largest number of members in Arkansas HOSA history. He noted especially given the need for more health care workers today, growth is what the organization is all about.
“It means growing as an individual, as a student to pursue your dreams. And growth is a main theme when I think about HOSA. Not just in numbers, but in traits and skills and education,” he said.