Posted on November 4, 2015

Volunteer Work May Be As Beneficial As The Classroom At McCann

How can volunteering help further someone's education?

At the McCann School of Business & Technology in Carlisle, medical programs are using volunteer opportunities to provide an educational experience for students while also giving back to the community.

Karen Altland, director of the medical assisting program, said students are expected to have a variety of skills when they graduate.

"There's not much that the medical assistant doesn't do," Altland said.

Medical assistants are in high-demand and the skill load reflects that. Students are expected to learn everything from office skills to mole removal to pap smears, and a variety of other medical skills.

They basically become a doctor's right hand, and can move into any area of the medical field, meaning that medical assistants will encounter a variety of patients and conditions during their careers.

"We like to make it real to the students here at McCann, get them our into the community so they can deal with the public," Altland said.

McCann students work at various expos and fairs doing things like checking blood pressure.

Wednesday a group of students checked blood pressure at the Cumberland County 50+ Expo in Carlisle – the first time for the group that they hadn't experimented on their classmates. Massage students were also there, practicing their techniques in a non-classroom setting.

"At first I was a bit nervous, but being here, it's a real life experience," said Tyawnna Watts, a first year student in the medical assisting program.

In the classroom, practicing on peers, it's easy to get comfortable. But at the expo, Watts was checking the blood pressure of a variety of different people.

And with the noise and bustling activity of the fair, it puts a slightly different environment for the students too, Altland said.

There are other volunteer opportunities for students to participate in, including taking gifts to the nursing home, decorating for breast cancer awareness and working with Toys for Tots, Altland said. But particularly for health and medical students, volunteering adds another educational component.

"I don't look at it as I'm in school; I look at it like I'm helping out in the community," Watt said.