Students from Desert Vista High School will soon be traveling to a national competition that is designed to inspire them as they move closer to a career in the health care industry.

The Arizona Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) State Leadership Conference saw thousands of students descend up Tucson April 1-3 to compete in about 60 different categories, from dental science to veterinary science. Desert Vista sent 59 students who competed in 18 different events.

Out of those 18, they had eight first place finishes, five second places, and one third place. This is the sixth year of the club, which has expanded exponentially since its inception.

“This is probably the best year we ever had (at the State Leadership Conference),” said Birgit Musheno, teacher and co-sponsor of the HOSA Club. “I was really proud of the kids. We medaled in just about every competition and took home a lot of gold and silver medals.”

Each category had a different way of testing and ranking the students. For example, in the veterinary science competition, the students were called into a room individually, given a surprise scenario where they would have to decide between using five or six techniques and solve the issue, all in front of a panel of judges.

“It’s a really challenging competition,” Musheno said.

Of the approximately 100 kids in the club, 90 take an online test in January to qualify for the State Leadership Conference.

Of the 58 students who attended, 39 qualified for the National Leadership Conference, which takes the top three finishers in each category from each state.

Musheno said that they are currently in the process of determining who can attend and getting board approval for the trip. Last year, they sent 20 students to nationals.

“It’s a really rewarding club because these kids want to help other people,” Musheno said. “They will be facing everyone in states so it’s a whole next level of competition.”

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