Students at one local school — Black Fox Elementary — have been learning about careers in health care by taking part in a club called HOSA Jr. which was introduced this semester. HOSA stands …
Students at one local school — Black Fox Elementary — have been learning about careers in health care by taking part in a club called HOSA Jr. which was introduced this semester.
HOSA stands for Health Occupations Students of America, and chapters are typically found at secondary schools. However, Black Fox faculty decided to add this opportunity to help students learn about careers in the health care field.
“I think it is powerful for a child, at a young age, to have a goal they can work toward even into adulthood,” Principal Dr. Kim Fisher said. “Seeing those who have followed their goals lets them know they can do it.”
The club, which is led by school nurse Valerie Lamon, consists of fifth-grade students who showed interest in health care careers during a schoolwide career interest survey.
The school has been using “pull-out time” the last Friday of each month as a time for students to get involved in club activities.
Fisher said the goal is for them to each “gain a productive hobby or begin learning skills for a future job.”
Current offerings include clubs centered around sports, music, technology, art, photography, cooking and leadership. The school also has a Junior Beta Club chapter.
“We offer an introduction to health careers in general and teach them some basic health care skills,” Lamon said. “That way, when they go on to middle school and high schools, they can choose their path right away and get involved in programs there.”
So far, HOSA Jr. students have learned how to do first aid and CPR and how to check vital signs such as blood pressure. They have also learned how to evaluate an emergency, how telemedicine works, how an AED (automated external defibrillator) is used and how some local health care professionals got into their careers.
“The fact that we get to do this stuff is really cool,” fifth-grader Kendall Boyland said.
“We could save somebody’s life someday,” fellow fifth-grader Allyissa Herbold added. “It’s kind of encouraging to know that we know what to do.”
Students involved in the club described how they aspire to be nurses, doctors, surgeons and veterinarians when they grow up. All said they were happy to be able to begin learning about health care careers while still in elementary school.
While many said they liked knowing they could help someone in need of first aid or CPR, Herbold also noted they feel like they are “getting a head start on” their future academic endeavors.
“We do still have to go to college to become doctors,” quipped fifth-grader Donovan Price. “But it’s still pretty cool.”
Though some might say elementary school is a little soon to be giving students hands-on experiences in one particular career area, Fisher said it is good to allow them to explore at a young age.
Fisher said she knew in the first grade what she wanted to do. She saw her favorite teacher at work and decided she also wanted to work toward becoming a teacher.
Lamon said she also had the chance to learn first aid skills in elementary school, which allowed her to know what to do when her sister had a seizure. Seeing how she could make a difference made her want to become a nurse.
Both said it is important for children to be seeing and learning from local professionals, so they know what kind of opportunities they can work toward.
“They are getting a head start, and it could very well carry them into their future jobs,” Lamon said.
The school leaders thanked Tennova Healthcare, which loaned the school equipment for its CPR training and made a donation so the school could purchase lab coats for the students, for its support. They also thanked Dr. Chad Eslinger with Pediatric Dentistry of Chattanooga for visiting the school to speak to the club.
Fisher a praised Lamon, who “stays extremely busy” as a school nurse, for taking the time to create opportunities for students who want to learn more about health care.
Lamon said she hopes to continue to grow this club and present students with more opportunities to learn practical skills and learn from health care professionals.
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