Recent events include an expert speaker on public health as well as an in-depth look at upcoming externships
Students at the American College for Medical Careers (ACMC) in Orlando work hard in their classes to learn more about their chosen profession, whether it’s Medical Assisting, Medical Billing and Coding, or Dental Assisting. But the school also offers a range of other opportunities for them to expand their understanding of the medical field. Two recent events provided valuable context for students to bring with them as they prepare to enter the working world.
An expert’s overview of public health
Alicia Tullo, a Health Information Technology instructor at ACMC who teaches in the Medical Assisting program, recently invited Jack Tracy, M.Ed., to campus to speak about public health. Mr. Tracy has forty years experience in the field. A Biological Scientist and Epidemiology Surveillance Specialist for the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, he also has a history as a District Coordinator, looking at issues such as indoor air quality and biomedical waste programs. Mr. Tracy first came to the ACMC campus in June 2016, when he gave a presentation about the Zika virus.
The entire campus was invited to the event, which took place on January 11, and the room was filled, with students from the Medical Assisting and Medical Billing and Coding programs, as well as staff members. Mr. Tracy spoke for more than an hour, describing the country’s public health system, including how it functions in Florida. “He talked about why we have public health, and how valuable it is,” Tullo says. “Especially how it impacts on the individual, the community, the country, and the world as a whole.”
Tracy also covered the range of services that public health clinics provide, from maternal care and pediatrics to immunizations—all at affordable costs. “I think this aspect was of particular interest to some of our students,” says Tullo, “who may not have health insurance themselves, and perhaps don’t go to the doctor very often because of the expense.”
Finally, Tracy addressed the role that public health plays in the Epidemiology program at the Florida Health Department. “He used a PowerPoint to cite examples of specific cases,” Tullo said, “such as the deadly Avian flu. He talked about how this particular disease came to the U.S., and the number of states that were affected.” She says students came to understand how the department tracks a disease as it travels, showing the geographic distribution over the course of several weeks, once it has been introduced.
“Mr. Tracy also touched on ways that individuals can help themselves from getting sick, which is very timely given the dangerous strains of flu that are going around communities right now,” she says. “We in the general population did not expect this hard strain that would result in a number of deaths, so we found his talk all that much more relevant.”
Tracy concluded the presentation by taking questions from the audience. Tullo says that feedback from the students about the presentation was very positive. “One student said she came away thinking that public health was very cool,” she says. “She’d had no idea beforehand about the extent of the role that the department played.”
Medical Assisting students benefit from an externship presentation
A smaller group of Medical Assisting students gathered on campus on January 22 to learn more about their upcoming externship experience. Kimberly Burns, ACMC’s Director of Career Services, holds similar presentations about once a month, in the two weeks before a certain group of students finishes the classroom aspect of their training. “Even though we begin to prepare students about six weeks in advance, by the time we hold the presentation, we are fairly sure that the students will have met the educational requirements to begin their externship,” she says.
Burns starts out by providing the students with an overview of what will be expected of them by the employer when they are onsite. “We go through the kinds of policies and procedures that they are likely to encounter,” she says. “We also help to prepare them for what I like to call a ‘Meet and greet’—which is like a kind of mini interview, where the student spends about 15 minutes getting to know the employer and looking to see if it will be a good fit.” One of the qualities that makes a good externship experience for a Medical Assisting student, Burns says, is the opportunity to gain experience working in the front office as well as in the back, interacting with patients on an administrative as well as clinical basis.
This presentation is also the time when Burns checks in with students who may be trying to decide between several specialties. Since she herself has a broad background in healthcare, she is able to speak with them individually about whether they’re particularly interested in areas such as obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, pediatrics, orthopedics, or gastroenterology.
“We do our best to find a site that will complement what the student is interested in,” she says. “In cases where that’s several different specialties, I do my best to match them with a family practice, so that they have the opportunity to interact with a wide range of patients, from infants to seniors.” Burns notes that, this term, she was able to place two students at dermatology practices, in accordance with their interest. Some students began their externships as soon as the week of February 5.
From a logistical standpoint, the presentation is also the point at which the students receive paperwork related to any health screenings they may need to have to be onsite at a certain employer. “This can take some time in terms of preparation,” she says, “given that they may need to track down a record of their immunizations, or get a chest x-ray.”
A final aspect of the presentation focuses on professionalism. “I ask the students to treat the externship as a continuation of their education, and to think of it as the last class they take as part of their training program,” Burns says.
Students emerged from both of these presentations with a broader understanding of the medical world to which they have devoted themselves, and better equipped to contribute to the field. We wish the best of luck to all of our ACMC students who are headed out on their externships!
This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL. We are devoted to helping our students as they strive to attain their career goals. For more about any of our professional training programs, visit us online or call 407-738-4488. We look forward to hearing from you!