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SOTC Medical Assistants Train at Clinic

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2016


Graduates and Students: Clinic nurses Sierra Hinds, LPN,
and Lorena Salazar, RMA, have their pulse taken by medical
assistant students Daisy Sanchez and Stephany Flores. Hinds
and Salazar graduated from the SOTC program. Sanchez and
Flores are concurrent SOTC-Marietta High School seniors.

Unlike the groundhog, nurses in the medical clinic at Mercy Health/Love County always see shadows this time of year.

Spring semester brings selected Southern Oklahoma Technology Center students into the medical clinic.

Three days a week, they are following the office nurses of Dr. Margaret Western, Dr. Terry Jones, and Family Nurse Practitioner Pat Owens.

The students are in their final semester in the registered medical assistant program at SOTC.

They are gaining firsthand experience under the guidance of clinic nurses Teresa Steen-Landreth, LPN, Brandi Coleman, MA, and Sierra Hinds, LPN.

We have office nurses here who are great teachers and mentoring is someting they want to do," said Clinic director Connie Barker. "This program is a way to help local students receive medical assistant training and start careers," she said.

The relationship with SOTC has been ongoing for 20 years. Mercy Health/Love County looks to the program's graduates to fill vacancies in the clinic, hospital, or EMS. "We partner with SOTC to raise our own," Barker said.

In a clinic, medical assistants escort patients to the examination room or x-ray department, take and record vital signs, carry out patient interviews, collect and prepare laboratory specimens, assist the doctor or nurse practitioner with medical examinations and procedures, update the patient's electronic medical record, prepare and clean patient rooms, restock room supplies, set up appointments, and answer patients' telephone calls.

The SOTC students, who are concurrent seniors at Marietta High School, are Galaxy Douwenga, Stephany Flores, and Daisy Sanchez.

Though just 17 years old, they already are certified nurse's aides. Each has been spending one-half day apiece at SOTC and Marietta High School for the past two years.

They have studied anatomy and physiology, know how to take vital signs, draw blood, and give injections. They have spent time in the practice medical facility at SOTC in role-playing scenarious directed by their instructors.

"It's overwhelming at first to be 17 years old and helping in a clinic," Stephany said. "But you feel more adult when you are attending SOTC because these are adult programs we are taking."

After one month of the externship, the students have the experience to take care of a patient visit on their own, according to Hinds. "Then they are a real asset to us, helping us see more patients at one time if we are busy."

Hinds has been mentoring since she joined the clinic in 2009. She graduated from the medical assistant program and was mentored in the clinic by Sue Curry. Hinds is a 2008 graduate of Thackerville High School.

"I've mentored about 10 students," she said.

One of them, Lorena Salazar, is now her colleague. "I graduated from Marietta High School and the SOTC program in 2015. Sierra taught me the system and now I am the office nurse for Rhonda Mose."

A classmate, Kelsi Buckaloo, also externed in the spring. "I was hired as a first aid attendant at the casino, then transferred to the emergency room where I work in triage and patient registration."

Buckaloo is a part-time student at Murray State College, studying to become a Registered Nurse. "This is the best hospital to work at. It's awesome the opportunities we have," she said.

SOTC instructor Robin Waters expressed praise for all the nurse-mentors at the clinic.

"I have overseen students here for 18 years. I am so grateful for the established relationships with these nurses and their providers and director. Without them, the medical assistant program would not be possible. The Marietta clinic has a heart for students. They understand the 'teen mind' and pour into these students the time and effort to train them effectively They treat them like employees. At the end of their training, the students have five months of experience to put on their resume," Waters said.

In addition to RMA certification, the students receive up to 30 hours of equivalent college credit, which they may transfer to Murray State College or other community college, Waters said.

SOTC programs are available tuition free to any high school student in Love County who resides outside of the Turner School district.