Undergraduates Blaydon and Li win international HOSA award

This summer, sophomores Lauren Blaydon and Anna Li secured first place in the 2021 HOSA CERT Skills competition.


Blaydon (left) and Li

HOSA–Future Health Professionals is an organization for students of all ages that promotes health science. Undergraduates Lauren Blaydon and Anna Li recently won first place in the 2021 HOSA CERT Skills competition at the organization’s 44th Annual International Leadership Conference. This year's virtual conference welcomed 54 chartered associations, including competitors from Korea, Canada, and China. Blaydon, who is majoring in chemistry and psychology in Arts & Sciences, and Li, a biomedical engineering major at the McKelvey School of Engineering, qualified for the international competition after placing first at the state level. 

Blaydon and Li’s event focused on disaster preparedness and response, testing skills like closing a wound, using a splint, and medical evaluations on a patient in distress – just to name a few. Sophia Hayes, professor of chemistry and interim vice dean of graduate education, served as their mentor. Blaydon and Li spent time throughout the spring semester working with Hayes and the local HOSA president preparing for their event.

The WashU HOSA chapter strives to “provides a unique program of leadership development, motivation, and recognition exclusively for those who have interests in pursuing careers in any of the health professions,” according to the organization's WUGO page.  Although the collegiate chapter is still young, it has about 60 interested members. In addition to working with students to gain skills and prepare for competition, the WashU HOSA chapter hosts general body meetings with speakers from various related fields.

Typically, HOSA international conferences include a large, in-person competitive event. This year’s virtual conference required a written exam as well as a skills-based scenario response. Both Blaydon and Li have been active members of HOSA through high school, so at first it was hard for them to adjust to the virtual conditions.

“Although the lack of interaction with people from other places was a down-side, it seemed appropriate that those who want to be ‘Future Healthcare Professionals’ respect the urgency of the current global situation,” Li said. With the help of their mentors, Blaydon  and Li were able to overcome these barriers and secure a win at their first competition at the collegiate level. As they begin their sophomore year, the duo plans to continue their leadership in involvement in the WashU HOSA chapter.