At the recent Integrated Public Health and Healthcare System Preparedness Summit at Illinois State University, three ambitious Joliet West High School students presented 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.
This partnership, which begin 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 another ambitious goal in mind. She is considering working in pediatric cardiology. “I knew in fifth grade that 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 open heart surgery. That’s where my interest in cardiology happened.”
But the more immediate concern for these students was their appearance at the public health conference at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center. In addition to providing volunteer event assistance, the three students displayed their poster showing the MRC-HOSA partnership during the poster presentation portion of the summit, the morning of June 14th.
Their club sponsor, Mary Spata, RN; who taught Becerra, Patino, and Naverrete in a Joliet West Health Care class; was very proud of the students’ efforts in explaining the content of the poster. “We drove down here and practiced all the way,” Spata recalled. “It was just a matter of keeping things within a certain time frame and hitting the major points.”
Spata says she sees her former students as having great health care careers, whether or not they follow through on their current goals. “Their exact roles will be determined by the classes they take and the decisions they make. Life makes the final decision.”
While 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 Response Coordinator Katie Weber says these two programs complement each other very well. “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.”
Weber was quick to point out that this is not the end for HOSA students showing their fine work at competitions. Patino, Navarrete, and fellow student and HOSA member Sydnie Martin will soon be heading to the HOSA Nationals in Orlando, Florida. They will be showing a 30 second PSA on tornado preparedness that they created, with the help of the “Movie Maker” software program, to the theme of “The Three Little Pigs.”
In addition, another Joliet West HOSA student, Krystal Steg, will be competing at the HOSA Nationals in the Pharmacology category. A GoFundMe page, https://www.gofundme.com/jolietwestilctrip, has been established to help raise funding for their trip. The students plan to depart on June 21st. Donations to the GoFundMe page can be made at any time, as HOSA students are expected to participate in additional state and national competitions during the next school year.