The State Leadership Conference for future health professionals was held in Loveland last week, and 30 local students came home with high accolades.
Health Occupations Students of America, or HOSA, is a group of students interested in going into health care careers.
"It's sort of like DECA or FBLA," said Theresa Bloom, HOSA adviser and lead instructor for the Medical Prep program at Western Colorado Community College.
The conference ran from March 6 to March 9.
Students match their abilities in over 55 events ranging from EMT services and Forensic Medicine, to Extemporaneous Writing and Biomedical Debate.
They also attend seminars and listen to industry experts to get a better understanding of their interests.
Students with CMU, WCCC, and local high schools ended up winning a total of 27 awards, including eleven bronze medals, one silver medal, and eight gold medals, according to Bloom.
They also had an additional 13 top-ten finishes in 23 events.
Bloom said one of the most amazing feats accomplished by local students, was winning first place in the physical therapy category. She said we're the only program in the state that doesn't actually have a physical therapy program for the young students.
KJCT spoke to a couple of medal recipients Wednesday morning.
"I took top ten with my partner in E.M.T. and I placed first in Pathophysiology," said Laura Bloom, a Senior at Grand Junction High School.
"It's a really good learning experience in growing, not just your knowledge base for health care and skills, but also with networking and meeting new people and learning other sides of career paths," Laura added.
We also spoke with Jake Dodd, a Junior at Grand Junction High School.
Dodd said he's participated in debate at school, so the subject matter he tackled at the conference wasn't too unfamiliar to him.
"I was a finalist in Extemporary Speaking and I took the bronze medal in Biomedical Debate along with two other teammates of mine," said Dodd.
He said he may participate in the conference next year as well as long as he's not too busy with his regular studies and training to be an RN.
"But I still hope to do better, and I have a lot of ambition to do better, and maybe take a gold home," Dodd said.
HOSA adviser Theresa Bloom said the future of health care is in good hands with the promising students on the Western Slope.
About 20 to 25 local winners of the state competition will go on to compete at the National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, from June 26 to June 29.
Theresa Bloom said HOSA students brought back numerous medals and top-ten finishes from last year's National Conference in Orlando, and she has high hopes for this year as well.