MORGANTOWN, WV – For West Virginia Junior College students working toward an Associate’s Degree in Medical Assisting, earning a diploma is about more than burying a nose in a book.
It’s about gaining hands-on experience.
Medical students participated in a mock disaster July 25. A makeup artist decorated the students with life-like wounds, and the medical students were provided with limited medical supplies as they assessed, treated and stabilized the victims. The mock disaster, which was hosted by WVJC instructor Vanessa Hilling, RN, included near-fatal wounds, a heart attack and bystanders screaming.
The mock disaster was part of the students’ clinical training as part of the WVJC’s 18-month Medical Assisting Program. Other students participated as disaster victims. Hilling monitored the medical assisting students and graded the students’ responses.
“This was as real-life as a classroom setting can be,” Hilling said. “The students tested their skills under pressure, and we had a great time. These types of activities build the students’ confidence and show me that my students are ready to be professionals in the medical field.
During the Medical Assisting Program, students learn to take a patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, temperature and pulse; check a patient’s vision; collect medical specimens, check blood-sugar levels; perform certain lab tests; draw blood; sterilize medical equipment; assist with minor surgeries; give injections; conduct certain heart tests; prepare basic medications; understand medical terms; and understand and adhere to patient privacy issues.
WVJC medical students have also organized a Phlebotomy Club where the students have the opportunity to practice their venipuncture skills by hosting a Health Fair. During the Health Fair, the WVJC, in partnership with Mon General, will offer $30 multiphasic blood screening. Students will draw participants’ blood, and the samples to be sent to Mon General. Test results are mailed to the participants’ homes. The screening will include a complete blood count, chemistry panel and lipid profile. Participants must fast prior to their appointment and should not eat 12 hours prior to their appointment. Hilling oversees the health fair and the blood draws.
In addition to the hands-on mock disaster and the extra-curricular activities, the WVJC requires that Medical Assisting students spend 120 hours in the medical field as part of their externship. As graduation nears, students are placed in doctors’ offices and hospitals. The students are graded on their professionalism.
“This is a great opportunity for a student to begin networking and gain professional experience prior to graduation,” said Holly K. Hildreth, WVJC Career Management Director. “Some externships may turn into full-time positions post graduation, and this is a great way for our students to get a taste of real life.”
Following graduation students who chose to earn their Medical Assisting Associate’s Degree may work as medical assistants, phlebotomists, lab assistants, ECG technicians, unit clerks, sterile processing assistants and clinical associates.
For more information on graduation rates, median debt of students who have completed their programs, and other important information, please visit our website at www.wvjc.edu/morgantown-programs. Our programs are equal opportunity employer/programs. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.