New Kingsland student group focused on health field

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE HOSA advisor Kevin Geer shows Dylan Mlinar how to use a blood-typing kit.

GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Bradley Grabau gets ready to find out what his blood type is during a Kingsland HOSA meeting advised by Kevin Geer.
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Some Kingsland students draw blood for fun.

No, they don’t crave violence. They do it in the name of learning and sometimes it takes a pterodactyl to take their minds off the practice.

The blood-drawing students are members of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), a new club that started this year at Kingsland High School. The students are learning the ins and outs of the health field, even drawing blood from each other, as a recent experience of two members shows.

When Bradley Grabau asked Dylan Mlinar, “Are you ready?” while holding a sharp lancet aimed at Mlinar’s finger, Mlinar answered with a convicted “No.”

“Just look at the pterodactyl while he does that,” said Kingsland High School biomedical sciences instructor Kevin Geer, advising Mlinar to think of something else. 

But Mlinar’s imagination as to how much pain his ring finger would suffer while drawing blood to learn his blood type earlier this year kept going wilder than the model pterodactyl hanging from Geer’s classroom ceiling.

It’s all part of the routine at meetings of HOSA, which is aimed at future health professionals. Geer is the advisor for the club.

“It gives them a chance to work on many leadership and communication skills, as well as medical skills, to explore possibilities in the health professions,” said Geer. “There are state and national competitions that they can take part in where they meet other students of a similar mindset and can show what they have learned.” 

Geer teaches the biomedical science classes at Kingsland so he knew there were many students who desired to go into the medical field. He said he had heard about other schools that had the club and talked to some students who were part of those clubs. 

“They told me about what they gained from being members of HOSA, the confidence it gave them in things like public speaking, and how it really showed them what they wanted to do,” he said.  “I wanted to give that to the students here at Kingsland.” 

Geer introduced the Kingsland School Board to three state representatives of HOSA during its December 2017 meeting, and the trio highlighted how they are interested in future careers in health care, that the organization holds competitions in how to conduct medical procedures – such as suturing a wound or incision – and captivates the interest of students who aspire to join the medical profession.  The students stated that their HOSA membership has been beneficial to them and encouraged the School Board to give the organization a try at Kingsland to help students build their confidence in public speaking and to pursue careers that they will enjoy.  Additionally, they informed the board that through a partnership with the United States Army, HOSA offers scholarships to qualifying individuals.

It was during the September 2018 meeting that the School Board conversed about and agreed upon drafting a memorandum of understanding for the creation of a HOSA chapter to allow students to explore their medical career aspirations.

The mission of HOSA is to offer activities for future health professionals to become leaders in the global health community through education, collaboration and experience, according to the governing body of the organization.  The goals of HOSA are: to promote physical, mental and social well-being; to develop effective leadership qualities and skills; to develop the ability to communicate more effectively with people; to develop character; to develop responsible citizenship traits; to understand the importance of pleasing oneself as well as being of service to others; to build self-confidence and pride in one’s work; to make realistic career choices and seek successful employment in the healthcare field; to develop an understanding of the importance in interacting and cooperating with other students and organizations; to encourage individual and group achievement; to develop an understanding of current health care issues, environmental concerns and survival needs of the community, the nation and the world; to encourage involvement in local, state and national health care and education projects; to support health science education instructional objectives and to promote career opportunities in health care.  

The charter year of HOSA at Kingsland showed Geer that there is definitely interest in exploring health careers, but he acknowledged that an organization’s first year always takes time to get the membership established. 

“We have around 10 active members in ninth through 12th grade and are looking to grow a little more next year as word of HOSA spreads, and we have also opened up to eighth grade, with intentions of adding seventh graders as well, as there are also middle school events at the competitions,” Geer said. 

The chapter has monthly meetings to plan activities, get ideas and organize fundraising, as well as monthly activity nights where the students get to try out some of the competitions that they can compete in and try different medical skills such as blood typing. 

Three students attended the spring leadership conference where they competed in the creative problem-solving event, as well as HOSA Bowl, a Knowledge Bowl-style event, in St. Cloud.  There are three state events each year.

“The kids in HOSA have an idea of what they want to do, which gives them the motivation to participate in the club,” Geer said. “Students who join want to be here, and that makes the experience more enjoyable for everyone.” 

The members tend to take the biomedical science course principles of biomedical science and human body systems, as well as anatomy/physiology, which Geer said gives them a lot of useful knowledge for the HOSA Bowl event.  HOSA also has many events that focus on specific careers or opportunities for students to explore careers. 

“HOSA Bowl has them learning about what different health professionals do, as there are questions that come up, such as ‘A nephrologist specializes in which organ?’  Health Career Photography has them choose a profession and photograph people in that profession and present them to the judges,” Geer said. “They compete against other people who are also interested in the health professions who have been doing this for a while and are passionate about it, so it makes for some tough competition.

“Hands-on experience and the chance to visit with professionals in their fields give them the chance to learn more about what they do or don’t like or might want to do – some have learned that they had skills that they didn’t know were already as strong as they are.  When they competed in creative problem-solving, they discovered some had a natural talent in speaking to the judges, and they want to do it more, as they really enjoyed it.  Students who do well at the state level can qualify for the national convention – this year, it is at Disney World.  Their work in HOSA is great for college scholarships, applications and down-the-road job applications.”    

Geer anticipates the second year of HOSA at Kingsland to be even more exciting, with or without a pterodactyl. 

“We have definitely had our ups and downs this year – membership can be tough with new clubs, and expenses are always more than you expect.  It has definitely been a slow start, but we will grow,” he said. “Watch for us out there – we are planning many fundraisers to be able to get supplies to practice for competitions, cover costs of registration and travel.  These kids are part of the future of the health care field.  We need people passionate about these fields to pursue these careers.  We have a lot of talented students coming up who can go far with our support.”