Nyssa students takes honors in health competition

NYSSA – A Nyssa High School club that prepares students for health care careers bested six other schools in a recent regional competition.

The Nyssa chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America hosted a competition among area schools at Nyssa High School on Oct. 27.

High school students from Ontario, Wilder, Notus, Homedale, Marsing and Parma competed in timed competitions resembling the TV game show Jeopardy! 

In eight-minute rounds, students answered trivia questions from judges about health care topics and earned points by answering the questions quickly and correctly before an opponent, according to Tracy Watts, a science teacher at Nyssa High School and co-adviser for HOSA.

Nyssa students correctly answered questions in pharmacology, sports medicine and other health care topics to win the HOSA Bowl trophy.

According to the HOSA website, the international student organization comprises middle school, high school and college students, alumni and other health care professionals.

Watts said she and Aundra DeWitt, her co-adviser and a Nyssa school nurse, started the monthly competitions last year with schools in Idaho and eastern Oregon. According to Watts, rural HOSA chapters have few opportunities to practice before the January regional competition.

She said Boise-area schools host practice competitions, which the rural schools are welcome to join. However, the chapters have to make long trips to participate.

The local competitions have become a success and HOSA has grown in popularity at Nyssa, Watts said. She said this year, the club has 30 students, up from 12.

She said the club lost many seniors last year and has a relatively young group, primarily first-year students, which is good for the program’s future.

The freshmen, she said, will have several opportunities to compete and gain experience. Come their senior year, Watts said, the students will have been to the state contest numerous times, which builds leadership in the group.

Leadership and teamwork are critical components of HOSA, she said.

Watts said she attributes the popularity of HOSA on the Nyssa High School campus to a special group of exceptionally nice kids.

Also, she said HOSA has become a club where students who are not involved in sports or other school activities can belong, have fun and compete.

Watts, a HOSA adviser for the Ontario School District for over 20 years, said the club provides opportunities for students to learn and grow in careers they otherwise might have yet to be exposed to.

From guest speakers in the health care industry to tours of doctors’ offices and hospitals, the students get insights into health care.

While students must complete an academic component, the activities get them out of the classroom for hands-on experience and with the school’s nursing assistant and dental programs.

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