At the upcoming Integrated Public Health and Healthcare System Preparedness Summit at Illinois State University, three ambitious Joliet West High School students will be presenting a poster they created to promote the shared mission of Joliet West’s Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) group and the Will County Health Department’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers. That partnership, which began during the recent school year, has allowed the HOSA students to take part in numerous MRC events, contributing to their education and training for future careers.
The three Joliet West Students; Guadalupe Becerra, Paola Patino, and Alyna Navarrete; all have
ambitions of working in the pediatrics field. Becerra and Patino, who will be seniors this fall and also participate in Joliet West’s ROTC program, are both hoping to work in pediatric oncology. Becerra plans to “be the backbone for the kids” as a pediatric nurse when they need comfort and support in their battles against major illnesses. She is also considering becoming a military nurse.
Patino, who hopes to be a doctor in pediatric oncology, says it would be wonderful to work with her friend Guadalupe as a team. “You’d have the doctor; who needs to know all about cells, cancer, and tumors; and the nurse who provides the strength that the children especially need.”
Navarrete, who will be a junior this fall at Joliet West, has an even more specific goal in mind. She hopes to work in either pediatric oncology or pediatric cardiology. “I knew in fifth grade I wanted to be a pediatrician,” Navarrete recalled. “But during a field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry we watched an online viewing of an open heart surgery. That’s where my interest in cardiology happened.”
But in the more immediate future, these three Joliet West students will be at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center the morning of Wednesday, June 14th to present their poster, which shows the shared mission of the MRC-HOSA partnership. While the HOSA participants are high school students, the MRC individuals can be anyone 18 and older interested in being involved in the community. Health Department Emergency Preparedness and Response Coordinator Katie Weber says one of those events was a recent disaster drill, where HOSA students were able to contribute by playing the roles of some of the victims.
"These two programs," Weber explained "benefit from each other in so many ways. Our MRC volunteers are able to provide students with their own personal experiences working in the medical field. They're exposed to a variety of training, along with great exposure into the public health field."
Registered Nurse Mary Spata; who taught Becerra, Patino, and Navarrete in a Joliet West Health Care class; says there is no doubt in her mind that all three will be working in health care. Whether it's exactly as planned right now will be determined later. “Just about all ambitious health care students come in wanting to be nurses and doctors," Spata said. "But the exact roles will be determined by the classes they take and the decisions they make. Life makes the final decision."