Tag Archives: vocational training

MA Students Practice on Prisoners

Most  vocational and educational training programs provide their student medical assistant necessary hands on practice through teamwork in small groups in the clinical lab–venous blood draws and injections are learned on artificial “dummy” arms and then practiced under the watchful eye of their instructor on each other. Some schools might take a field trip to a local nursing home to practice taking vital signs  and set up a blood pressure clinic at the mall to boost their student’s skills and confidence.

Mesa College is taking a completely different approach to practicing and solidifying clinical and health care skills previously taught in the classroom. It  is the first community college in the county to partner with a prison to provide their medical assisting students hands-on training through inmates who suffer a variety of issues, including mental illness and disabilities.

Such a partnership between Mesa College and Donovan State Prison undoubtedly saves the state money and in turn, their students get 300 hours of training they need to become registered medical assistants; however, there might be a catch-22, such as unrealistic expectations of students who might not be comfortable working under such conditions, as well as risk of harm and liability concerns. 80% of the facility’s patients have chronic diseases and more than half require mental health treatment.  About 10% of the inmates, about 400 men, were involved in the prison’s substance abuse treatment program, which no longer exists due to the lacking funds.

Conditions at Donovan State Prison are tough, among other concerns, the prison is hopelessly overcrowded. Currently there are more than double the number of inmates there than Donovan was built for. Although it was designed for 2,200 prisoners It currently houses more than 3,100 men with two, or more men in double and triple bunk beds per cell. The three gyms, which were originally designed for recreation, such as basketball, now house a large number of inmates.

Another gym  serves as the prison’s psychological services unit to provide mental health care on a regular basis. Reports filed in March 2013 in U.S. District Court experts deemed conditions at RJ Donovan so serious that they “present an on-going serious risk of harm to patients and result in preventable morbidity and mortality”. Some medical areas were deemed “unfit for use” especially those that lacked sinks or doors. In one clinic, a nurse worked in a closet, evaluating an inmate who sat in the hall. Discipline was also a problem: The experts noted a nurse accused of “over-familiarity” with an inmate remained employed in the mailroom for two years while the case was pending.


Although throughout history prisoners have been (in-voluntary and voluntary) participants in scientific, medical and social human subject research, today’s prisoners are among of the most highly protected groups of human subjects in the United States.


Best Job Candidates

Jobs in medical assisting, phlebotomy, medical billing are reaching a new level of standards and expectations. Rarely do you see medical assistants being hired without experience or trained directly on the job anymore. Employers expect more these days. Doctors and human resource offices at large and small medical facilities clearly see the benefits of hiring someone with documented formal training and recognized certified credentials; they want someone who has the knowledge necessary to do the job, which includes working side by side with professional health and medical staff to run their office or facility efficiently and safely.

qualified medical assistant
competent medical office staff

The goal everywhere in the health and medical field is…

Working for a successful company is of the utmost importance to most employees, equally being a reliable, dependable and skilled worker are significant attributes employers expect from their staff. The attributes that substantially differentiate you from the rest are usually those that contribute the most to a medical office team’s and your own success. The single most sought-after characteristic employers seek in their employee is ________________ (if you know the answer please leave a reply below!).

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Vocational Training Avenues

Medical assistant training comes in many forms—from hands-on instruction on the job, to  formal training in a school, or informal online medical assistant programs provided over the Internet.

There are many medical assistant schools; some are state funded and government regulated, such as community colleges, others are private vocational training institutions for profit. While the outcome is essentially the same (a medical assistant diploma or degree) attending a community college usually costs less.

Luckily, college is not the only answer to leaning a skilled trade such as medical assisting. Many community funded and private vocational training institutions offer secondary and post-secondary education programs. Typical educational requirements to be accepted into a medical assistant program are:

  • at least 18 years of age
  • high school diploma, or equivalent

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