A Mission in Medicine

While most teenagers are preoccupied with the latest TikTok trends, Madison Forsythe stays busy pursuing her future. She recently endured a stringent selection process to achieve a leadership position in a global student-led organization for future healthcare professionals.

by Kari Apted

Madison Forsythe knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up. She has plans to become a pediatric pulmonologist—a physician who helps children with problems related to breathing and the lungs. She excels as a student at Newton High School and the Newton College and Career Academy STEM Institute’s biotechnology pathway, having completed her junior year with a 4.0 GPA.

It was not enough to sit at the top of her classes, though. Forsythe is already making real-world connections in the medical field through the Health Occupations Students of America organization. As explained on its website, HOSA’s mission is “to empower HOSA-Future Health Professionals to become leaders in the global health community, through education, collaboration, and experience.”

There are over 15,000 HOSA members in the state of Georgia, and the NCCA has its own chapter. The organization hosts various competitive events each year, focused on topics like health science and emergency preparedness. These events serve to provide healthcare students with opportunities to develop and enhance the skills they will need in the medical profession. Forsythe became interested in HOSA during the coronavirus pandemic when her trainer in the biotechnology program had students make Valentine’s Day cards for patients. She eagerly plugged into the group. 

“We wore yellow for pediatric cancer patients, and we helped the pregnancy resource center clean out their shed,” Forsythe said. “It was also through HOSA that I had my first time helping run a blood drive.”

“You can’t be selfish and seeking your own gains and be successful in medicine.”

Madison Forsythe

She had found her niche, and by the end of 10th grade, the natural-born leader became an officer in the NCCA HOSA chapter. The group hosted a “Kick the Habit” event, blood drives and programs centered on mental health issues. Forsythe also serves on her school’s health advisory committee to keep it updated on what the local HOSA chapter is doing for the students and the community. 

Forsythe’s next step was to apply for a state officer position with the organization. Although she felt a little hesitant over the weight of serving in a higher office, she decided to apply and see what happened. HOSA’s application process for a state position was extensive. Forsythe had to answer a series of initial questions in paragraph form, write a 500-word essay and prepare a speech about advocacy and why she wanted to serve. When she moved on to the next level, she had to take a quiz and go through a virtual interview. The final stage included an in-person interview in front of the nominating committee. Forsythe passed all the requirements and now serves as the Georgia HOSA Vice President of Membership on a team of diverse leaders from around the state. In addition to connecting to other future health professionals via HOSA, Forsythe continues to build relationships in the field by volunteering at Piedmont Newton. 

“I started in the summer of 2022,” she said. “I was in the surgical department. I couldn’t do hands-on work, but I made beds and shadowed doctors and nurses.” 

In the first semester of her junior year, Forsythe was allowed to shadow ICU nurses and see how they worked with patients. During her second semester, she moved on to volunteer in wound care and her chosen specialty: pulmonology. “I got to see what respiratory therapists do, how BIPAP machines work, how they use cameras to see what’s inside the throat,” Forsythe said. In fact, volunteering is what shifted her from her original plan of becoming a pediatrician. “I didn’t want to be a pulmonologist at first,” she said, “but when I got to see the different medical careers at Piedmont Newton, I realized I wanted to be a pediatric pulmonologist.” 

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HOSA is open to medicine-minded students from sixth grade through college, and college graduates can remain involved after graduation by serving on the alumni board. All stages of participation appeal to Forsythe. “I see myself doing that,” she said. “I hope to attend Mercer University and join their HOSA chapter.” Forsythe also feels she has a good idea of what is required to pursue a career in medicine. 

“You have to have your heart in it because it’s not something everyone can do,” she said. “You need to be passionate about being selfless and altruistic. You have to constantly advocate for other people. You can’t be selfish and seeking your own gains and be successful in medicine.” 

Click here to read more stories by Kari Apted.

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