HOSA Club Participates in its First Year of In-Person Competitions since the COVID-19 Pandemic


Dheeksha Bhima Reddy

HOSA club president and senior Varsha Raju and competitor and senior Joanna Rhim discuss potential test questions and analyze a case study before the forensic science event in Sacramento. Twenty-two out of the 30 members who competed in the regional competition qualified to participate in the State Leadership Conference and eight members qualified for the international level, according to Raju.

Twenty-two members of the Health Occupations Students of America club participated in the Cal-HOSA State Leadership Conference that occurred in Sacramento on March 23-26. Eight competitors (junior Arjit Singh, junior Jeremy Chae, sophomore Eileen Lee, sophomore Parmin Zamani, sophomore Chrisma Agbor, sophomore Hemkesh Chenupati, senior Varsha Raju and senior Joanna Rhim) qualified for the International Leadership Conference, which will take place in Texas on June 21-24, marking the first year of in-person competition since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many HOSA members ranked top five in their events. However, due to economical, logistical and time constraints, students will not compete in the ILC this year. 

HOSA is an academic organization that aims to help students pursue their medical aspirations through competitions that test their medical knowledge and challenge their critical thinking under pressure.

“The entire aim of our club is to prepare those who want to enter the medical field and really expose them to the different possibilities,” club president and senior Varsha Raju said. “Healthcare isn’t just a streamlined career path because there are a lot of different things that you can do in it.”

This year’s SLC was a mix of online and in-person testing split up into multiple events, focusing on topics such as nutrition, forensics, biotechnology and medical math, according to Raju. Depending on the topic, competitors could conduct analysis on case studies, test medical terminology and more.

“Going to the conference was like its own experience; if people didn’t compete, they had the opportunity to go to different workshops, speak with different people and kind of network,” HOSA club adviser and math teacher Christian Quinteros said. “So we’ll see if next year there’s an online portion because I would want all students to go and experience it. It’s more than just placing. Even if you don’t, just going is a great opportunity.”

During events, competitors conducted in-depth research on different issues and areas in the healthcare field, which could introduce them to various types of medical careers outside of well-known pathways, according to competitor and freshman Keerthana Pillai.

“I actually learned a lot while I was studying that I honestly wouldn’t have figured out on my own,” Pillai said. “When I was looking through behavioral health, I learned a lot about the brain and mental illnesses, and since I want to go into psychiatry later on, I really feel like HOSA has prepared me for that.”

Students prepared for the events independently or in groups of two to three, recreating the real-life pressures of the medical field, according to Pillai. Lunch meetings previously used to focus on analyzing case studies and health careers were used as weekly check-ups on competitors, in which experienced members recommended textbooks and other resources to prepare for the competition, according to Raju. 

As competitors return to in-person competitions, Raju hopes to work alongside other board members to set a more detailed plan for future years, increase outreach to other medical aspirants and compete in the ILC.