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Word whiz: CALS student wins national medical terminology contest

Words like retinoblastoma, dysphonia and hepatologist may be more than a mouthful for most, but for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences sophomore Erin Beasley, knowing words like these landed her a trip to Orlando, Fla., where she became a national champion with Health Occupations Students of America.

HOSA is an organization for high school and college students interested in working in health care, and its annual medical terminology contest is designed to test students’ ability to identify, spell, define and apply the prefixes, suffixes, roots and anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology and occupations related to the field.

The event took place at HOSA’s annual conference in June 2012.Beasley, an animal science student and aspiring veterinarian, says her interest in words and her passion for anatomy were key to her championship win.

“I’ve always liked the origin of words and the history of words. Being able to piece certain word parts together was really fascinating for me. I also love anatomy,” she says. “Piecing all that together and being able to compete in it is really fun.”

Beasley earned her way to the national competition by coming in first place in the state-level medical terminology contest held as part of North Carolina’s HOSA leadership conference in Greensboro last spring.

Through HOSA, Beasley is involved in numerous health-related service projects. It is just one of the many activities she has been involved in as an N.C. State student. Last year, she was an intern for Reptile Rescue of the Carolinas, and she’s also an active member of the pre-vet club and a volunteer with Operation Catnip, a monthly spay-and-neuter clinic for feral cats.

Over spring break 2012, she traveled to Costa Rica to help with spaying and neutering of dogs and cats. And this year she’s serving as an intern with CALS’ VetPAC, or Veterinary Professions Advising Center.

Erin Beasley with her pets
Beasley is an intern with the College's Veterinary Professions Advising Center, or VetPAC.

As she looks ahead, Beasley says she’s eager to gain all the animal and veterinary experiences she can, including taking on HOSA’s veterinary medicine competition next year. Gaining such experiences is all part of fulfilling her dream, she says, of attending N.C. State’s doctoral program in veterinary medicine.

“I’ve always loved animals, and I’ve always loved science,” she says. “But over the years I’ve found that the veterinary medicine career does really fit me. Of course I love animals, but it’s also fascinating to help animals with medical issues. I like learning about different body processes. And I like to solve puzzles and problems.”

And, speaking of puzzles: If those words in the first paragraph have you perplexed, Beasley can explain: A retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor of the eye that is known to be hereditary, dysphonia is a voice disorder and a hepatologist is a physician specializing in treating patients with liver diseases.

— Dee Shore

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