CALAIS _ Students enrolled in Washington County Community College’s Medical Assisting Program recently had an opportunity to learn from the best of the best at Calais Regional Hospital.
More than a dozen Medical Assisting students enrolled in the Medical Management phase of the program recently toured the hospital and talked with staff. “The course deals with the administrative side of medical assisting and includes medical records, scheduling patients and banking and financial management practices,” WCCC Medical Assisting Instructor Cindy Moholland said.
The CRH “living lab” experience was beneficial to the students, Moholland added, because it gave students an opportunity to consider if they wanted to specialize in the administrative or clinical side of Medical Assisting.
“The last semester of the Medical Assisting program our students participate in a medical cooperative internship and apply the clinical and administrative components of medical assisting in that experience. However, visiting the medical records department at CRH exposes them to the administrative side in a large-scale medical records department. Although CRH is a small hospital, it is much larger than what you see in doctor’s offices and clinics,” she said.
In contrast with the administrative side of the program, students interested in the clinical side of Medical Assisting, Moholland said, learn such tasks as taking vital signs, drawing blood, giving injections and updating patient medication lists.
The two-year associate degree program is nationally accredited by the Commission Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs which means that students who graduate from WCCC are eligible to apply nationally for jobs.
And Moholland confirmed that there are jobs available for graduates. “Locally, statewide and nationally the majority of our graduates last year are working in the field. Nationally, it is one of the fastest growing allied health career programs in the country. So there are definitely jobs out there,” she said.
The WCCC program is all inclusive.
“Our students not only get the broad range of skills to be a medical assistant, they also get areas where they can specialize. So it is not like they go in and there is only one path for their careers. There are multiple career job opportunities when they graduate from our program,” she added.
Moholland said the CRH tour was beneficial to the students because the hospital staff talked about their jobs. “Ann Ingersoll, CRH Health Information director, talked about the hospital’s transition from paper medical records to electronic records which everyone is going to need to comply with by 2015,” she said.
Moholland also said that Ingersoll not only talked about the nuts and bolts of the operation, she also explained the day-to-day workflow of the medical records department. Students not only learned about transitioning from paper medical records to electronic health records, but also about record retention, numeric filing systems and medical coding.
However, Moholland noted, WCCC students already are ahead of the game because both paper and electronic record management are taught at the college.