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Discovering a Career in Health

Author: Priya Rathakrishnan, President, HOSA Executive Council
Published Date: 8/22/2017 1:10:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

For teachers, volunteers, and leaders looking to engage young people, it can be hard to know where to start or how to get those young people involved. Often the best avenue to engage new audiences is to go directly to them in the places they already spend time. In looking to engage young people, professionals should look to other areas in their community where young people volunteer. In her own words, here is one student’s journey, from local library volunteer to HOSA President, that shows how an initial spark of interest in volunteerism and community involvement can build into the start of a long career in public health.

From the age of 6, I’ve known that I wanted to be a health care professional. As I grew older, I became involved with the community and started volunteering at my public library. It showed me that service to others is an important part of being a leader. As I went into high school, I knew I wanted opportunities where I could serve others in the health field.

When I entered my 9th grade, I kept my eyes open, eagerly looking for the chance to pursue a path in health. On the first day of my Introduction to Healthcare class, I was introduced to HOSA Future Health Professionals, an international student-led health organization. I immediately joined, and ever since, this organization has given me with numerous experiences in volunteering and leadership.

I served as the Secretary and President of my local chapter, President-Elect and President of Georgia HOSA, President-Elect of National HOSA and
Picture of Priya Rathakrishnan
currently serve as the Pesident of HOSA-Fututre Health Professionals, leading over 220,000 members alongside my officer team. Throughout the past 7 years, I have learned about the different fields of health and have been exposed to various health professions and leadership opportunities through class internships as a part of Career and Technical Education, blood drives, and service projects for organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Leukemia Lymphoma Society and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.


When I attended my first HOSA conference, I couldn’t believe the energy level and excitement that I felt. Thousands of members from different backgrounds who share the same passion for health, united together in one room, all ready to pursue the journey to becoming future health professionals. It felt surreal to me. Recently, I attended another conference, the HOSA Public Health Leadership Scholars Program in Washington, D.C., where I interacted with distinguished public health leaders and have now come out of this program with information that will craft a better path for me as I approach my future.

If anything at this program, we learned that public health represents a broad umbrella that includes many aspects of health, such as medicine, veterinary medicine, allied health, emergency medical services, public safety, community health, and behavioral health.

While my experiences with HOSA have been filled with an abundance of new information each moment, the entire experience has provided me with a clearer outlook on what my future will hold. Currently a junior majoring in Biology on the pre-health track at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, I feel fully equipped with motivation and insight to make a difference in my own community.

Knowing what the true broad meaning of public health is, I look forward to educating others to make sure that we as a community are paying attention to the needs of our population. I am more aware of emergency management and am now constantly thinking about my own emergency preparedness plan, assessing how it fits with any given situation. And most importantly, I look forward to raising more awareness to mental and behavioral health in my own community because I truly believe that this aspect of public health is a determinant factor in one’s overall wellbeing. I look forward to the years ahead as not just a future health professional but a public health advocate as well.


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