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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC Visalia’s Medical Assisting class visit to hospital expands career choices

July 30, 2015

SJVC Visalia Medical Assistants visit Kaweah Delta District HospitalIt may surprise you to know that not everyone who chooses a career in the medical field opts for patient care or contact. Some are drawn to work in a medical environment, but are not comfortable with patient care or direct interaction.

That option was underscored recently when two Medical Assisting classes on the Visalia campus toured the Sterile Processing Department of the Kaweah Delta District Hospital (KDDH) as part of their Clinical Procedures course.

Medical Assisting instructor Carlota Reid took two classes, the first group had 22 students and the second group 18 students, to the large medical facility to introduce them to this aspect of hospital and surgery protocol. KDDH Sterile Processing Manager Leslee Palmer conducted each tour, which lasted about 90 minutes.

“I can tell them about the medical field until I am blue in the face, but until they feel it, smell it and touch it, they can’t have a real sense of what it is to be in the medical field,” says Carlota.

The tour made a positive impression on those about to enter the medical field. “I enjoyed seeing true medical professionals at work,” says Cherelle Andrews, Medical Assisting student. “This visit definitely helped me gain more confidence, and allowed me to view a different department within my career choice as a RMA (plans to become a Registered Medical Assistant).”

The very first thing touring students did was gown-up in “bunny suits” prior to entering the hospital’s Sterile Processing Department (SPD). The “suits” included hairnets, full gown and shoe covers. “The gowning was to decrease the amount of microorganisms that would enter the department,” says Carlota.

Students were shown several medical instruments and medical surgical trays. “The students were astonished at the many instruments they saw,” says Carlota.

Leslee demonstrated how to perform surgical medical instrument wraps, which processes instruments post-surgery. The process includes washing, drying, steaming and examining each instrument under a magnifying glass to make sure every instrument is in pristine condition, with no nicks, sharp and ready to be put to use again. Protocol, regulations and standards are strictly observed. “Students witnessed the entire process an instrument endures prior and after surgery,” says Carlota.

“My students never got to see instruments with blood and tissue, live and in reality,” says Carlota. “They learned about the importance of disinfection, sanitization and sterilization. They also heard how important this department is to the hospital and the heart, and the beginning of any surgical procedure.”

“The highlight of my visit to the Sterile Processing Dept. at KDDH was when an employee in the SPD stated that ‘Prevention is better than a cure,'” says Cherelle. “This statement definitely stuck with me and made me think about how important standard precautions really are.”

Students got to have a look at a different side of the medical industry, one not at all connected to patient care. “The impression I got is that some students realized, ‘This is totally for me!,’ while others would not want to do this every day, and they really want the patient interaction,” says Carlota.

“Now, after this visit, I am striving more towards working at the Sterile Processing Department,” says Medical Assisting student Rocio Lopez. “After experiencing this real-world site, it definitely reinforced my career choice in the medical field.”

The tours provided Medical Assisting students with not only greater insight into an important facet of hospital operation, but with a career option they may not have considered previously.

“Coming from only having a classroom experience, our students were really excited to go to a facility that can employ them,” says Carlota. “They walked away with a spark of motivation to complete their education and left the facility excited about their future career paths.”


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