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An ongoing vocational night class offers interested community members an introduction to skills needed to enter the medical assisting profession.
The current Medical Assisting: Intro to Front and Back Offices adult night class is being held 5:30-8 p.m. on Tuesdays in room 136 at Bishop Union High School. â€śThe class was started to help people find good jobs,â€ť said instructor Laura Smith, â€śto provide an introduction to the skills needed to work as a medical assistant in a variety of medical settings â€¦ I have had physician offices call me to refer students to them.â€ť
The 13-week, tuition-free class is offered through the Regional Occupation Program of the Inyo County Superintendent of Schools. There is a required textbook and â€śmost students find good inexpensive texts online,â€ť said Smith.
Although students wonâ€™t earn college credit, those who complete all scholastic and attendance requirements receive a certificate of completion, which â€śdisplays the main skills learned â€¦ such as introduction to medical terminology, basic anatomy and physiology, medical office communications, patient vital signs/assessment and CPR and First Aid certification.â€ť The certificate is honored by many medical employers, Smith added. â€śIt is also a strong statement of the ambition and initiative of the applicant.â€ť
Current Medical Assisting student Anita Haenni, a personal home health aide/CNA for Pioneer Home Health in Bishop, said she enrolled to beef up her resumĂ© â€śfor future opportunities â€¦ to be better prepared.â€ť Classmate Gabby Santana said the class seemed interesting and plans to take â€śCNA classes and see where all of it leads me.â€ť Santana added that she finds herself putting some of the terminology and skills learned in class to use in her home life.
The curriculum includes lecture and discussion, hands-on training, student presentations, a Northern Inyo Hospital field trip â€śand a lot of studying outside of class,â€ť said Smith.
In addition to a lot of homework, the Medical Assisting class has other challenges. Since it meets only once weekly, explained Smith, students must be consistently self-motivated and self-disciplined. Haenni found the anatomy, physiology and medical terminology to be challenging, as did Santana. â€śThat and getting up in front of the class to do presentations and role play,â€ť Haenni added, â€śbut the challenge is enjoyable.â€ť
The class definitely has its upsides, said Smith and her students. â€śI love being able to share knowledge â€¦ to feel their excitement as they learn â€¦ being able to help others obtain a higher quality of life. I especially love seeing the results,â€ť she said, adding that some of her students are now working in the medical field locally. Some of the curriculum can also be used in everyday life in terms of â€śgeneral health, nutrition, first-aid skill and even how to help save a life,â€ť she added.
According to Haenni and Santana, Smith is also one of the upsides of the class. Haenni said she enjoys Smithâ€™s calm demeanor and ability to either answer any question or to point students in the right direction to find answers. Santana added, â€śLaura is a great teacher. She really cares about her students and makes class fun.â€ť
Smith is a registered nurse and credentialled teacher with â€śyears of experience at NIH, Inyo County Health Department and Inyo County Office of Education,â€ť she said. Smith is also certified as a health consultant, fitness trainer and American Red Cross instructor.
The next Medical Assisting class will begin on Jan. 22. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9 and can only be done by telephone. A word to the wise, â€śthe class is very popular,â€ť said ROP Coordinator Sophie Kenn, who advises potential students to call early on registration day because it often fills up within a few hours. To register, call (760) 873-3262 ext. 221.