Animal Science Students Win Top HOSA Awards

Crystal Cain (left) and Erin Beasley wear the medals they won in the Veterinary Science competition at the HOSA National Leadership Conference.
Crystal Cain (left) and Erin Beasley wear the medals they won in the Veterinary Science competition at the HOSA National Leadership Conference.

N.C. State University students Erin Beasley and Crystal Cain were among medalists in June at the HOSA: Future Health Professionals National Leadership Conference (NLC) in Orlando, Fla. Beasley won first place and Cain took second in the Veterinary Science competition at the week-long conference.

Beasley is a senior animal science major, while Cain is a first-year graduate student in animal science, both in N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Beasley, from Cary, hopes to attend veterinary school, specialize and obtain her Ph.D. “My goal is to work in a governmental agency or institution where I can combine practice and research in advancing One Health [an initiative uniting human and veterinary medicine],” she said.

Cain, from Winston-Salem, holds an N.C. State undergraduate degree in animal science with a minor in nutrition science and plans on becoming either a small-animal or exotics veterinarian.

The Veterinary Science competition included a written test and then a skills test at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The written test contained a mixture of questions from different areas of veterinary medicine, Cain said. “The biggest focus was anatomy and physiology, but other areas of the test covered emergency practices, nutrition and the veterinary career.”

Beasley said the written test comprised 50 multiple-choice queries, which also covered topics such as immunology and diseases and disorders.

The top 20 competitors in the written test then advanced to the skills test, which included two or three randomly assigned tasks out of eight possible tasks listed in the event’s guidelines, said Beasley. “The judge places a number score for each step and adds them for the total score of that skills task. Competitors have to score at least 70 percent on hands-on skills tasks to be recognized for any award,” she said.

Cain explained that the skills tested included identification of medical instruments, applying a gauze muzzle to an animal, breed identification of cats and dogs, surgery preparation, lifting and restraining an animal, and performing CPR on a small dog. “Each skill has to be completed in order as it appears on our guidelines we receive prior to the competition. If we have a written skill, such as an identification, we receive points for both the correct identification and the correct spelling,” she said.

After the skills test, the competitors had the opportunity to go to a backstage area, watch an elephant get a bath and meet some of the keepers at Disney.

The top ten competitors were later recognized on stage, and the top three received medals for themselves and their schools, Cain said.

Beasley and Cain advanced to the HOSA National Leadership Conference because they had placed in the top three at the N.C. HOSA State Leadership Conference (SLC).

“The SLC competition is organized the same way as the NLC competition,” said Beasley, who placed first and Cain second at the SLC. As the N.C. HOSA Postsecondary/Collegiate President in the N.C. HOSA Executive Council, Beasley also helped lead the SLC in Greensboro.

In addition to her Veterinary Sciences medal at the national conference in Orlando, Beasley was named an awardee of the $2,000 National HOSA Scholarship, based on her HOSA contributions, academic performance, service and leadership. As a scholarship recipient, she got to meet the NLC guest speaker, theoretical physicist Dr. Michio Kaku. Beasley also was named Outstanding State Leader award in recognition of excellence as the N.C. HOSA Postsecondary/Collegiate President (which included creating the first ever N.C. HOSA Postsecondary/Collegiate Leadership Conference).

More than 8,000 HOSA members attended the 2014 National Leadership Conference, and both Cain and Beasley say the location was ideal.

“The best part about the conference was just being at a place like Disney World with your friends,” said Cain, who enjoyed post-conference relaxation time viewing the fireworks and light show at Magic Kingdom.

“This conference was my fourth HOSA National Leadership Conference and the second time I have attended the conference at Disney World. My favorite NLC location is Disney World, because the Disney and HOSA atmosphere is invigorating, and the park is incredible,” Beasley said.

“Since I was competing in Veterinary Science, I was extremely excited for the skills test at Animal Kingdom. Standing on the first place podium in front of the HOSA members is very rewarding. I am honored to have experienced it twice, this year for Veterinary Science and in 2012 for Medical Terminology (both at Disney World),” she said.

“I was happy that Crystal and I took first and second in the event–representing the Wolfpack!”

HOSA: Future Health Professionals (formerly Health Occupations Students of America) is a national student organization that includes students who are interested in, planning to pursue or are pursuing a career in health professions. Its purpose is to develop leadership and technical HOSA skill competencies through programs of motivation, awareness and recognition. Its two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance quality of health care to all people. – Terri Leith