Preparing today’s student for tomorrow’s technology

Special to The Business Times from WCCC

          Understanding technology and how it works in today’s workforce is more important than ever. Western Colorado Community College is dedicated to preparing students for the modern business world, and uses state-of-the-art technology to give students practical experience using equipment and software they will use in their given field.

            One such program is the Medical Office Assistant, which gives students the opportunity to enter the healthcare field with either a technical certificate or an Associate of Applied Science degree. Throughout the program, students learn to perform the tasks necessary to function in the reception and administrative area of the office or in the clinical and patient care part of the office.

            In order to succeed in these responsibilities, students take classes in medical terminology; basic medical science including anatomy, physiology, disease processes, diagnostic tests and treatments; an overview of the healthcare system; and office and medical practice software and procedures. Clinical skills that students become proficient in include obtaining vital signs, preparing patients for examinations, assisting physicians during examinations and procedures ,, preparing and administering medications, collecting and preparing laboratory specimens, and performing basic laboratory tests.

            To provide this quality education, WCCC uses the technological equipment and supplies that one would find in a medical practice. For example, students learn to sterilize instruments in an autoclave, use a centrifuge to prepare laboratory specimens, take the temperature of a patient by using a variety of electronic thermometers, and utilizing an ophthalmoscope and an otoscope. In addition, students practice performing venipuncture and injections using teaching arms and mannequins.  On the administrative side, students study management of electronic medical records, using office software, conducting internet-based research, and providing patient education.

            After two semesters and 34 credits of classes and laboratory experience, the student is well prepared to embark on the clinical internship, where students spend eight hours a day, four days a week for seven weeks perfecting their skills utilizing medical technology under the supervision of clinic staff and WCCC clinic instructors. After successful completion of all the courses, the graduates are well prepared for a career as an accomplished medical office assistant in one of medicine’s fastest growing occupations.

            Another technology-based program at WCCC is the Machining Technology program, where students incorporate machining, computer-aided design (CAD), and welding to complete their degree. Students begin learning basic machining principles on manual machines, such as lathes, milling machines and grinders. During this initial phase of the program, students learn algebra, trigonometry, geometry and physics with hands-on projects incorporating those mathematic principles. After this, students move on to the CAD section of the program where they work on Haas computer-numerical controlled (CNC) machines. WCCC is a certified Haas Technical Education Center (HTEC) that utilizes industry standards and industry machine tools to train for the skill levels needed in today’s manufacturing sector. Students working in the CAD section of the program, work on the most current industry standard software available. This type of software ranges from architectural, to mechanical, to two-dimensional and three-dimensional design and applications. In the welding portion of the program, students work with faculty members who have experience in the industry and attend American Welding Society (AWS) training every year to stay current. Students gain knowledge of metals, layout work and welding processes such as SMAW, GMAW, FCAW, GTAW, pipe and specialty welding. Upon completion of the program, students can continue their career goals in the two-year or four-year Mechanical Engineering Technology Program.

            Local, regional and national industries hire many graduates from both of these programs and many others. WCCC has put forth the effort to ensure graduates from these programs have the skills to be successful in today’s complex, technologically driven world.

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