GAVC students participate in health occupations competition

DECATUR – Several Grundy Area Vocational Center students participated in the 35th annual Illinois Health Occupations Students of America State Leadership Conference in Decatur.

Two students took first place in their categories and five finished in third place at the event, which was held from March 12 to 14. Those who took top places will go to nationals in Orlando, Fla., in June. 

Minooka Community High School junior Crystal Torres took first place in personal care, which included washing hands and changing a gown on an injured patient.

“I prepared by practicing skills in class and during clinicals,” Torres said. “It was stressful at competition with the judges watching though.”

Torres was in a room with two judges and no other students or teachers, as she performed her two events.

While many may feel that it would be hard not to do well in a competition that involves washing your hands, the technical details are something each judge is watching for.

The process is broken down to several steps that must be done in order and without touching the sink, avoiding contamination.

“After soaking your hands you have to lather for 20 seconds, scrubbing between your fingers and under your fingernails,” Torres said. “After rinsing for 10 seconds you have to grab a towel and dry from the tip of your fingers toward your wrists and then grab another towel to shut off the water.”

Ruth Ann Hensen, the GAVC Health Occupations teacher, said practicing for the competition falls mainly on the student.

“In all honesty, the students in class don’t get to prepare much,” Hensen said. “Students have to take on the work themselves.”

Students participate in personal care in their quest to become a Certified Nursing Assistant during their first year in Health Occupations.

They study books, as well as participate in clinicals at Park Pointe Healthcare & Rehabilitation, as they earn dual credit with Joliet Junior College and work toward taking their state exam to become a CNA.

Torres also had to compete changing a hospital gown on a live person. In the scenario in which she competed, her client had a wounded right shoulder and she had to remember what order to remove and replace the hospital gown.

“We use an acronym – POW, [which means] put on weak – to remember which order we put the gown on,” Torres said. “By putting it on the weak side first they can use their strong side to help get it on.”

Torres hopes to continue after high school and get a nursing license before fulfilling her dream to be a pediatrician.

“I just like helping others get back to full capacity.” Torres said.

Hensen said it isn’t surprising that Torres took first place.

“She’s very dedicated in the classroom,” Hensen said. “She has her book mapped out with tabs in it, she’s eager at clinical and she is the go to person for other students.”

The Grundy group also took 23 Top 10 recognitions.