CALAIS, Maine — The Washington County Community College’s medical assisting program recently was granted accreditation by the national Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.
The WCCC program now joins other colleges in Maine including Eastern Maine Community College, Kennebec Valley Community College, Southern Maine Community College and Beal College whose programs have similar accreditation.
“Specialized accreditations assist graduates to obtain employment in Maine and nationally. Many employers look for this certification of quality because it means that the educational program is meeting nationally defined standards,” WCCC President Joyce Hedlund said. “We are very proud of this accomplishment; it documents something we already knew — we are graduating high-quality medical assistants with the skills to be successful.”
Program Instructor and Medical Assisting Director Nickey Dubey worked many hours putting together the more than 600 pages of self-study documentation required for certification. Dubey said the accreditation not only was important to students attending classes on campus in Calais, but also to students involved in the college’s satellite program in Machias. It also is important to all those men and women who are taking courses online.
A great deal has been accomplished since the medical assisting program first started at the college in 2005. Academic Dean David Markow and Dubey wrote grants to obtain funding to buy medical equipment for the program, such as an EKG machine and practice mannequins. They also have been setting up the curriculum and implementing other changes in preparation for applying in 2010 for accreditation.
An accreditation team from the Clearwater, Fla.-based commission was on campus for two days in March.
“They interviewed faculty, staff and students,” Dubey said. She also had to give the surveyors copies of 300 assignments she gave students during their various classes to make sure the program was offering instruction to the industry standards.
Not only did she have to demonstrate that her students could perform well in class, but she also had to show that the 160 hours the students spent working in internships around the county also met the accreditation standards.
Now that the accreditation, which is good for five years, has been approved, Dubey said her students can get jobs not only in Maine but in medical facilities across the country where accreditation is required.
And the program offers several job opportunities. Dubey said students not only can work in medical centers, hospitals and doctor’s office, but also in the insurance industry doing the medical billing part of the business.