Medical Assisting students at STI are starting the year with renovated classrooms and laboratories, allowing them better opportunities to practice their skills, collaborate with fellow students, and receive one-on-one instruction. The renovations include: new exam tables with vital sign equipment and lap top tables; private curtains around all the exam tables; a receptionist area for administration duties; reference tables for research and collaboration; new hand-washing areas; and new cabinets and counters.
Program Director Susan Beer, a Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA), said the renovations give the students a realistic sense of what it is like to work in a medical office, and they also allow for more private instruction. In addition the upgraded facilities keep Southeastern competitive with other programs in the area. “It’s worked out really well so far. The instructors can focus on individual students’ needs and skills with much less interruption,” she said.
This year, the post-secondary program has 18 full-time students, who are learning hands-on medical assistant skills and preparing to sit for national Certified Medical Assistant exam following graduation, in June. Recently, the students were learning to take each other’s apical (heart) pulse, with their instructors’ supervision. The students were able to work in groups of two and three, with private instruction at each station. “I really like the new curtains. They help block out the distractions and give us more privacy,” said Holly Vodden, of South Easton.
The facilities also include a new classroom which the students can use for collaboration, and a receptionist desk at the front of the main classroom. Mrs. Beer said the reception area is set up to mimic a real medical office, where students can act as “front desk” medical assistants who handle administrative tasks, as well as those who work in exam rooms. “A student can practice their administrative skills by preparing a patient chart, and the next student can look up patients’ charts, the same way it is done in doctor’s offices. It promotes professionalism and credibility, and it helps students to practice the soft skills so important when dealing with the public,” she said.