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ATEC students attend health occupations conference
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ATEC 11th-grader Chelsea McDonald and 12th-grader Amber Farmer are competing in the Health Occupations Students of America State Leadership Conference this week in Charleston. This is the 35th annual conference that allows students to compete and participate in educational symposiums. - photo by Miciah Bennett

What better way to show employers you’re serious about your future career than winning a first-place prize in a state competition?

Seventeen students from Kershaw County School District’s Applied Technology Education Campus (ATEC) are competing at the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) State Leadership Conference this week in Charleston.

Health Science teacher Kathy Vidal said 500 people attended her first HOSA conference; this year there will be more than 1,150 registered participants, not including judges, volunteers, and advisors.

“It’s good for career prep and learning about career placement,” Vidal said. 

ATEC will compete in five categories: Health Education, Medical Photography, Knowledge Test in Medical Math, Researched Persuasive Speaking and Career Health Display.

Last year ATEC placed four groups in the top six, Vidal said.

“It’s very rewarding for students” she said. “It’s not all about winning, but it’s wonderful to see them place.”

Vidal said she pushes students hard so they are not ill prepared when they present. Students must have their project done by the end of the first semester of school, but she allows for last-minute touch-ups during the spring semester. Preparation is very important for success in the HOSA competitions, Vidal said.

Eleventh-grader Chelsea McDonald and 12th-grader Amber Farmer make up one of the four groups competing in Career Health Display from ATEC. They chose midwifery and constructed the model and poster to display information about the profession. They used a lot of Internet sources, but also interviewed a working midwife. The most revealing thing they learned about being a midwife? McDonald and Farmer said many midwives only get paid for a 40-hour work week but many are on call for 72 hours.

There are more than 50 health care-related areas in which students are able to compete at the State Leadership Conference each March.

HOSA’s mission is to “enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality healthcare by providing opportunities for knowledge, skill and leadership development for all health care education students, therefore, helping students to meet the needs of the healthcare community,” according to its website.