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News | Nov. 30, 2023

Keesler medical practitioners collaborate with local students

By Michelle Stewart

Seven military medical practitioners from varying specialties and military service branches at Keesler Medical Center traveled to Pascagoula High School on Nov. 30 to engage students interested in medical professions.

The visit is essential to Keesler’s participation in the Health Occupation Students of America program. During the visit, the team shared their medical journey, assignments, deployments, their path to college, and pointers on applying for financial aid.

What is HOSA?

HOSA is a student-led organization managed by the Department of Education to empower HOSA-future health professionals to become leaders in the global health community through education, collaboration, and experience.

“The Keesler team’s involvement is the HOSA program spans 12 years, said Air Force Medical Modeling and Assimilation Training Operator Bradley Belford who assists with the program coordination. “HOSA gives students interested in the health profession beginner’s knowledge and skills to enter the field. It also helps them determine if the medical field is right for them.”

Navy Lt. j.g. Nigel Kissoon

Kissoon, a Queens, New York native, is the Gulf Coast Multi-Service Market Office director.

“Participating in this program has allowed me to give back to the community and share my wealth of experience and pathways to becoming a medical professional. Kissoon said. “The importance of guidance and mentorship at a very young age is valuable as it aids these young men and women in making decisions to realizing their goal in medicine.”

Air Force Maj. Tenna Gray

Gray, an Air Force brat, claims home as anywhere the Air Force sent her family. She serves as the Education and Training Flight Commander.

“I believe sharing our “why” and what we do with others. Gray said. “Every person’s story is unique, and through sharing, we allow others to see the tangibles of what is possible.”

Air Force Col. Scott Malthaner

Malthaner, a Landenberg, Pennsylvania native, is the director of Periodontics.

“I have chosen to participate to encourage the younger generation to consider health care in the military setting, the more than 30-year veteran said. Malthaner said. “HOSA was not a thing when I was in high school.”

The visit proved informative to the HOSA group.

“I learned that there are a lot of opportunities in the military and especially the medical field, said sophomore student Joseph Karner. “I grew up surrounded by military family members and knew I wanted to join. This visit helped me narrow my goals to become a traveling nurse.”

Junior student Jean Beauvais echoed those sentiments.

“The briefing cleared my misconception that the Air Force mainly focuses on planes and flying – there are more options. I didn’t know they had medical jobs,” Beauvais said. “I am still deciding if I want to enlist.”

According to Belford, Keesler has an active program.

“We have a very energetic program that is growing,” Belford said. “I want to thank Mrs. King, our HOSA sponsor and our Keesler medical professionals who helped make this visit a success.”
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