TSTC Allied Health Students Advance to SkillsUSA State Competition

BY Amanda Sotelo

Texas State Technical College recently hosted its second Allied Health SkillsUSA competition for nursing assistant and medical assistant students.

SkillsUSA is a national partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives serving middle school, high school and college students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations, including health professions.

At TSTC, a total of eight students competed in areas such as phlebotomy, electrocardiogram (EKG) and vital sign readings, perineal care, patient transfers, CPR, first aid and medical terminology.

“SkillsUSA has been a great way for students to reinforce what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Cinthya Valdez, TSTC medical assistant instructor. “It also gives them a notable confidence in their skills.”

Valdez said the students spent a couple of months leading up to the competition preparing outside of class spending every Tuesday and Friday afternoon studying and getting ready.

“Students are motivated to do well and advance to the state and national levels,” she said. “Once they compete nationally they also become eligible for scholarships, equipment necessary for their field and internships.”

The eight students who competed at the Allied Health SkillsUSA competition all advanced to the state competition at TSTC in Waco at the end of the month earning first, second and third place awards in their categories.

For Medical Assistant student Melissa Serrato, who is only in her second semester in the program, this was her first SkillsUSA competition and she said she was shocked to learn she had received first place and second place in two categories – Medical Assisting and Medical Terminology, respectively.

“I participated not thinking I was going to win, but on the thought that I would get ahead on my skills and be ready when they came up in class,” said Serrato. “But now I’m going to state and I’m so excited.”

Serrato she has her eye on national competition and a scholarship that would help with tuition and books.

“I’m already studying and preparing for state competition, especially because I added a new competition category,” she said. “This has been a great experience and I hope to get far.”

Nursing Assistant student Maria Gonzalez also placed in two categories. She got first place in Nurse Assisting and second place in CPR.

“All of the extra studying and preparation was worth it,” said Gonzalez. “I was so nervous, but relieved when I learned I was going to state. I can’t wait to see our Waco campus and compete for a spot at nationals. Kentucky here I come!”

The SkillsUSA national competition will be in Louisville, Kentucky in June.

Valdez said she is happy with the results and is excited to see her students advance.

“I’m so proud of our students. They all showed the judges what they are made of and how skilled they are,” said Valdez.

Judges for SkillsUSA are industry professionals who have worked in the field and understand the demands and skills needed to be successful.

“We had judges from as far as Houston,” she said. “I just want to give a special thanks to them (judges) and to everyone who has supported us. This has a huge impact on our students.”

According to Valdez, SkillsUSA also prepares students with resume building and mock interviewing, which gives participating students an advantage when searching for a job.

“Thanks to SkillsUSA and the training they receive in class, our students are prepared and many get hired before they even graduate,” she said.