A Complete Guide to Joining HOSA

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Scientists in a laboratory conducting several experiments.

A Complete Guide to Joining HOSA

HOSA plays a pivotal role in the community by encouraging students to be involved in healthcare-related volunteer work and public health initiatives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, HOSA members were especially crucial, helping to raise awareness about the virus, promote vaccination, and support health services. This involvement not only aids public health but also provides students with real-world experience in managing a global health crisis.

What is HOSA?

HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) is a global, student-led organization that promotes career opportunities in healthcare and aims to improve the quality of healthcare for everyone. It offers leadership development, motivation, and recognition for students in health science and biomedical programs and those interested in health professions.

HOSA’s activities include competitive events, leadership conferences, community service, and networking opportunities. These experiences help members build their skills, knowledge, and leadership abilities in healthcare. Through education, collaboration, and hands-on experience, HOSA prepares you to become a future leader in the global health community.

What does HOSA do? A Closer Look

Today, more than 165,000 students nationwide participate in HOSA activities through its 3,000 chapters. HOSA members represent a significant portion of the future healthcare workforce. Over 90% of HOSA participants continue to pursue careers in health professions after high school, spreading their influence across various health fields.

As HOSA students advance in their educational and professional journeys, they inevitably encounter public health issues. It is crucial to introduce HOSA students to public health issues and career paths early on. This exposure increases their awareness of training opportunities and helps them understand the relationship between public health and other health professions.

Additionally, public health initiatives benefit from these efforts by gaining insights into the pipeline of public health professionals. Public Health Systems and Services Research (PHSSR) aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public health services by increasing access to available data.

Medical interns

The International Leadership Conference (ILC) by HOSA

The ILC is the highlight of the year for HOSA members. This conference gathers thousands of future health professionals worldwide to compete, learn, and network.

At the ILC, HOSA members participate in various competitive events that test their knowledge, skills, and leadership in various health-related fields. These events include:

  • Health Science Events: Medical Terminology, Biomedical Laboratory Science, etc.
  • Health Professions Events: Clinical Nursing, Physical Therapy, etc.
  • Emergency Preparedness Events: CPR/First Aid, CERT Skills, etc.
  • Leadership Events: Prepared Speaking, Extemporaneous Writing, etc.
  • Teamwork Events: HOSA Bowl, Health Career Display, etc.
  • Recognition Events: Barbara James Service Award, HOSA Service Project, etc.

Educational Workshops and Symposia

The ILC offers a variety of workshops and symposia led by healthcare professionals and industry experts. These sessions cover topics such as:

  • Current trends and innovations in healthcare
  • Medical ethics and patient care
  • Career opportunities and pathways in health professions
  • Skill development and professional growth

Participants at HOSA’s International Leadership Conference (ILC) have numerous opportunities to connect with other students, educators, and healthcare professionals, leading to mentorship, internships, and valuable career connections. The conference includes leadership training sessions on team building, communication skills, problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective leadership practices.

Other activities during the ILC:

  • Networking: Connect with peers, professionals, and potential mentors.
  • Leadership Training: Enhance skills in team building, communication, and problem-solving.
  • Exhibitions and Career Expos: Meet representatives from colleges, universities, and healthcare organizations to learn about educational programs, scholarships, and career options.
  • Recognition: Awards for outstanding members and chapters in competitive events, leadership, and community service.

The ILC also features social events and activities where members can relax, have fun, and build camaraderie. These include opening and closing ceremonies, social gatherings, and entertainment. With participants worldwide, the ILC promotes international collaboration and understanding, enabling members to learn about global health issues and initiatives and to share ideas and solutions with their international peers.

How do you join HOSA’s International Leadership Conference (ILC)?

To participate in HOSA’s International Leadership Conference (ILC), members must meet the following criteria:

  • Affiliation and Competitive Events Participation: HOSA’s affiliated state-chartered associations must offer the HOSA Competitive Events Program at regional, area, state, or country levels per the annually released HOSA Competitive Events Guidelines. Chartered associations should conduct their Annual Conference in time to meet the ILC registration deadline of May 15th, as the ILC is held in June each year.
  • Competitor/Team Limits: Chartered associations can submit up to three competitors/teams per event per division for the ILC. Exceptions apply for Recognition and National Geographic Learning Academic Testing Center (NGL ATC) events, as noted in the General Rules and Regulations. In case of ties or event challenges at the association level, a process must be in place to determine the three eligible competitors/teams per division.
  • Membership Requirements: To compete at the ILC, a delegate must be a HOSA member registered on a chapter roster by January 1 if enrolled in the Fall semester. Spring enrollees must be affiliated by March 1 or within thirty days of beginning a Spring semester program. Chartered associations set specific competition eligibility deadlines. All participants must adhere to the eligibility requirements specified in the Competitive Event Guidelines and be affiliated with HOSA-Future Health Professionals before their chartered association’s leadership conference to be eligible for the ILC competition.
  • Registration for ILC: Competitive event participants must be registered for HOSA’s ILC by May 15th. Changes to registered participants, such as dropping participants or substituting eligible students, can be made until the state advisor completes the chartered association’s competitive events registration for the ILC. Official entry is confirmed when the State HOSA advisor (or their designee) verifies the chartered association’s registration.
  • Prior Competition Requirement: Individual and team participants must have competed in the same competitive event at the state (or country) level to be eligible for the ILC.
  • Academic Testing Center Participation: If they pay for the tests and can logistically sit for all registered events, competitors can participate in multiple National Geographic Learning Academic Testing Center (NGL ATC) events at the ILC.
  • Recognition Category Events: Competitors can participate in multiple Recognition Category Events if there are no scheduling conflicts with testing.
  • Voting Delegates and Executive Council Candidates: Students registered as Voting Delegates or Executive Council Candidates cannot compete in a regular competitive event but can participate in the NGL ATC or Recognition Events.
  • Recognition Event Registration Limits:
    • Healthcare Issues Exam: Each state-chartered association can register 25% of the ILC student delegates from the previous year
    • Unlimited Entries:
      • Barbara James Service Award
      • Outstanding HOSA Alumni
      • Emotional Well-Being Challenge
      • American Red Cross Volunteer Recognition
    • One Entry per Chapter:
      • HOSA Service Project
      • HOSA Happenings
      • America’s Blood Centers and HOSA Blood Drive
    • One Entry per Chartered Association:
      • Outstanding HOSA Leader
      • Outstanding HOSA Achievement

These eligibility requirements may change at any time. Visit HOSA’s official competition guidelines to stay informed of any changes and updates.

student doctors sitting around a table while one of them is looking at the camera smiling

Competitive Events

The Competitive Events Program is designed to inspire HOSA members to improve their knowledge and skills. It provides a structured framework for recognizing the competencies gained through Health Science and Biomedical Science classes, job training, and HOSA activities.

Category Events
Emergency Preparedness CERT Skills

CPR/First Aid

Emergency Medical Technician


Life Support Skills

Life Threatening Situations

Mental Health Promotion

MRC Partnership

Public Health

Health Science Behavioral Health

Cultural Diversities & Disparities in


Dental Terminology

Foundations of Medical Terminology

Health Informatics

Health Career Exploration

Human Growth & Development

Medical Law and Ethics

Math for Health Careers

Medical Math

Foundations of Medical Reading

Medical Reading

Medical Spelling

Medical Terminology

Foundations of Nutrition




Health Profession Biotechnology

Clinical Laboratory Science

Clinical Nursing

Clinical Specialty

Dental Science

Family Medicine Physician

Home Health Aide

Medical Assisting

Nursing Assisting

Personal Care

Pharmacy Science


Physical Therapy

Respiratory Therapy

Sports Medicine

Foundations of Veterinary Science

Veterinary Science

Leadership Extemporaneous Writing-Health Policy

Extemporaneous Health Poster

Health Career Photography

Health Career Preparation

Healthy Living

Interviewing Skills

Job Seeking Skills

Organizational Leadership

Prepared Speaking

Researched Persuasive Writing and


Research Poster

Speaking Skills

Team Work Biomedical Debate

Community Awareness

Creative Problem Solving

Dynamic Decisions

Forensic Science

Health Career Display

Health Education

Foundations of HOSA Bowl


Exploring Medical Innovation

Medical Innovation

Parliamentary Procedure

Public Service Announcement

Awards and Recognition at the International Leadership Conference

During HOSA’s International Leadership Conference (ILC), a variety of specific awards are given to recognize the achievements of its members and chapters. These awards include:

Medical students sitting and talking at the university

Competitive Event Awards

  • Medal Awards: Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to the top three competitors or teams in each competitive event category, such as Health Science Events, Health Professions Events, Emergency Preparedness Events, Leadership Events, and Teamwork Events.
  • Finalist Awards: Certificates or ribbons are given to those who place in the top ten in their events.

Leadership and Recognition Awards

  • Outstanding HOSA Chapter: This award recognizes chapters that have demonstrated exceptional performance in leadership, service, and chapter activities throughout the year.
  • HOSA Hall of Fame: This award honors individuals who have made significant contributions to HOSA and the field of healthcare.
  • Barbara James Service Award: This award recognizes individual HOSA members who have contributed a significant number of volunteer hours to their communities.
  • HOSA Service Project: Awards are given to chapters that excel in organizing and implementing impactful community service projects.
  • Outstanding State Leader: Recognizes state leaders who have shown exemplary leadership and dedication to HOSA.

Scholarships and Grants

  • HOSA Scholarships: Various scholarships are awarded to members to support their post-secondary education in healthcare-related fields. HOSA partners and sponsors fund these scholarships.
  • Travel Scholarships: Some members may receive travel scholarships to assist with expenses related to attending the ILC.

Special Recognition

  • National Service Project Award: This award is given to chapters that have made significant contributions to the National Service Project selected by HOSA.
  • Healthcare Issues Exam: Awards are given to the top scorers of this exam, which tests knowledge of current healthcare issues.
  • MRC Volunteer Recognition: Recognizes HOSA members who have volunteered with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).

In 2019, around 71 students were provided scholarships. The following were the main scholarships provided:

Group of medical students in college hallway

  • Future Health Professionals $2,000 Scholarship
  • Julius Berman Family Scholarship $2,500 Scholarship
  • Many $1000 Scholarships: a few names:
  • National Geographic Learning | Cengage,
  • CVS Health,
  • HCA Healthcare, Encompass Health,
  • National Consortium of Health Science Education (NCHSE),
  • National Technical Honor Society (NTHS)


HOSA offers internship opportunities for its members. These internships provide valuable experiences for students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare. A majority of the leading healthcare corporations provide internships to high school students who are enrolled members of HOSA.

Here is a list of a few organizations:

  • American Diabetes Association – Internship
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Cardinal Health Internship & EMERGE Programs
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Museum Disease Detective Camp
  • CVS Health Internships
  • Global Pre-Meds Doctor Shadowing
  • GlaxoSmithKline Undergraduate Internship Program
  • Howard University Health Sciences High School Summer Academy
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Mayo Clinic Internships
  • NACCHO Internship Program
  • National Institute of Health – Summer Internship
  • Nursing Internships for High School Students
  • Penn Medicine Summer Program for High School Students
  • Pfizer Summer Internship Program
  • Stanford Medicine: High School & Undergraduate Programs for those preparing for a future in medicine or science.
  • Summer Child Health Research Internship
  • The Center of Excellence High School Summer Enrichment Science Academy (HSSESA)

Take a look at the website to understand what interns do during their stint in the said companies.

How to Join a HOSA Chapter as a Student

There are three scenarios for joining a HOSA chapter, depending on whether your school has an existing chapter or a health science program.

If Your School Has a HOSA Chapter

Simply contact the chapter advisor to obtain membership information. If you are not enrolled in the health occupations/health science program but wish to join, you can become an associate member.

If Your School Has a Health Science Program but No HOSA Chapter

Talk to the health career program instructor about starting a HOSA chapter. They can help you get started.

If You Are at a College or University Without HOSA

Gather a group of healthcare majors and organize a HOSA chapter. Follow your school’s rules for starting a new club or service organization, and find a faculty member to serve as your chapter advisor.

What does joining HOSA mean to you as a high school/college student?

Joining HOSA as a high school or college student gives you a unique opportunity to develop essential skills and knowledge in healthcare. You’ll enhance both technical and leadership abilities through hands-on experiences, competitions, and leadership roles within your chapter.

As a member, you’ll gain exposure to various healthcare careers, helping you make informed decisions about your future path. The networking opportunities are invaluable, allowing you to connect with healthcare professionals, educators, and peers who can offer mentorship and guidance.

HOSA also fosters a sense of community and commitment to service, encouraging volunteer work and community service projects. Overall, joining HOSA equips you with the tools, connections, and experiences necessary to succeed in the healthcare industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is HOSA prestigious? 

Yes, HOSA is considered prestigious for several reasons. It is recognized nationally and internationally and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. HOSA’s competitive events are highly respected, and winning or placing in them is a significant achievement.

The organization provides excellent leadership development opportunities through roles, training programs, and conferences, which colleges and employers value. HOSA offers a vast network of healthcare professionals and peers, providing mentorship, internships, and career connections.

Additionally, HOSA awards scholarships and recognizes its members’ accomplishments. Its emphasis on community service enhances personal growth and appeals to educational institutions and employers. Overall, HOSA’s focus on excellence, leadership, and service makes it a prestigious organization that helps you excel in healthcare.

2. Is being a member of HOSA expensive? What are the typical costs involved? 

Being a member of HOSA involves some costs, but these can vary. Typically, there is a national membership fee of around $10 per year, plus a state membership fee ranging from $5 to $15. Local chapters may also charge their own dues. Participating in conferences and competitions usually requires registration fees ranging from $30 to $100 or more.

Additional costs may include travel, accommodation, uniforms, and study materials. Many chapters engage in fundraising activities to help offset these expenses, and HOSA offers scholarships and grants to support members financially. While there are costs, efforts are made to keep participation affordable.

3. Where do HOSA alumni go after? 

HOSA alumni pursue different paths. Many alumni continue their education at prestigious universities such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), often pursuing health-related fields like nursing, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and public health. Advanced degrees are also common, with alumni obtaining master’s degrees, doctorates, and professional degrees in healthcare and related disciplines.

forensic science student examining a sample in microscope

HOSA alumni frequently enter clinical roles in their professional careers, becoming doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and physical therapists at renowned hospitals and medical centers like the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Others pursue careers in medical and scientific research at institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and leading research universities. Some alumni work in public health, focusing on community health initiatives, policy making, and health education, often with organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and local health departments.

In addition to clinical and research roles, HOSA alumni often take on positions in healthcare administration, managing hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities. Institutions like Kaiser Permanente, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital are common employers. The growing field of healthcare technology also attracts HOSA alumni, with many working on developing and implementing medical technologies and health informatics at companies like Medtronic, Siemens Healthineers, and Epic Systems.

4. Where is HOSA ILC 2024 going to be held and when? 

HOSA’s International Leadership Conference (ILC) for 2024 will be held from June 26-29 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas. 

5. Are HOSA events open for college students? 

Yes, HOSA events are open to college students through the Postsecondary/Collegiate Division. College students can participate in various health-related competitive events, take on leadership roles, and attend educational workshops and seminars. They are also eligible for scholarships and awards that recognize their achievements and support their educational goals.

Why should you consider joining HOSA and its events?

Investing in HOSA is a smart use of time and money because it provides extensive skills development and professional growth opportunities. Students enhance their knowledge and abilities in various health-related fields through competitive events and educational workshops, building a strong foundation for future careers. The leadership training HOSA offers helps students develop skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, which are essential in any professional setting​.

Five medical students wearing scrubs as they walk inside the lobby of a medical school

Additionally, HOSA offers networking opportunities, connecting students with healthcare professionals, educators, and peers worldwide. These connections can lead to mentorship, internships, and job opportunities, giving students a significant career advantage. HOSA also provides access to scholarships and awards, easing the financial burden of education, and emphasizes community service, which fosters personal growth and a sense of civic responsibility. Overall, the benefits of participating in HOSA extend far beyond the classroom, making it a worthwhile investment for aspiring healthcare professionals​


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