PLYMOUTH, Mass. — From nurse practitioners to physician assistants, jobs in the health care field make up seven of the top 30 fastest-growing occupations projected to increase over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A Minnesota organization is working to train the next generation of students to fill those roles.
Friday, 280 students took part in Minnesota HOSA - Future Health Professionals' fall leadership conference. The organization helps prepare students — from junior high to college — for careers in the medical field. The leadership conference, held at the Crowne Plaza in Plymouth, was geared specifically toward high school students, giving them a chance to get hands-on experience.
Several collegiate medical programs and employers, like Mayo Clinic, hosted breakout sessions, and students had a chance to meet with many of them at booths after their sessions.
Avanthikha Shree Pravaharan, a sophomore at Eden Prairie High School, took part in a simulation where she delivered a baby via C-section.
"It was kind of scary," said Avanthikha. "It was slimy, first of all. But it was really fun — that in-the-moment experience."
The 15-year-old said she hopes to go into neuroscience.
"I’ve always been interested in the medical field since fifth grade. Specifically neuroscience. I just think it’s very important to learn about health care because a lot of people need health care," she said.
Mariam Hassan, a state officer for HOSA, said she gets excited about connecting students to medical opportunities, including ones that don't require a four-or-more-year degree.
"I think a lot of people when they think medicine, they think doctor, med school, which is not the only path," said Mariam. "And that’s not the only thing we have going on here. I mean, even I didn’t know all these [other careers] were options until I joined HOSA."
College students in the surgical technology program at Rasmussen University guided the high school students through birth simulations, tonsillectomies and laparoscopic surgeries.
"I was really excited for today to help students come in and learn," said Jessica Pike, a second-year in Rasmussen's program. "This has been really exciting."
Pike said she grew up with a father who needed several surgeries. Now, the 29-year-old is looking forward to entering the field at an urgent time.
"I guess I have the mindset of, somebody has to do it," she said. "I’ve always wanted to be in a job where you take care of patients and give them their lives back."
To learn more about HOSA, visit this website.