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KCC Medical Assistant Program gains national approval

  • Jessica Else / The Garden Island

    Tahra Kaui and Dave Aguinaldo pause in their classroom as the two make their way through the Medical Assistant Program at Kauai Community College.

PUHI — Tahra Kaui and Dave Aguinaldo enrolled in classes at Kauai Community College together in the fall of 2015 and have been working through the college’s Medical Assistant Program.

It’s been a long road for both, and in about a month they’ll be celebrating milestones not only in their personal lives, but also in the life of their program, as KCC’s MEDA Program is now officially accredited.

“Accreditation is like a seal of approval,” said Valerie Barco, director of Institutional Effectiveness at KCC. “It means that the program offers a quality education that meets the standards of the occupation.”

For the MEDA Program, it also means graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Medical Assistant Exam, offered through the Certifying Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants.

Medical assisting is a career that is growing fast nationwide, as medical assistants are able to do both front-desk work like filing, patient greeting and appointment scheduling, and clinical duties like drawing blood, explaining special diets and medications, and taking vitals.

“Only graduates from an accredited program like the one offered at KCC are eligible to take this certification exam,” Barco said. “Certification provides many benefits such as expanded employment opportunities, higher salary, and ensures both employer and coworkers of one’s knowledge and skills.”

Kauai Medical Clinic is the end goal for Kaui and Aguinaldo, who have been dreaming of careers in medicine since taking health classes in high school.

“We applied to KMC (for jobs) as floats last night,” Kaui said. “That’s the short-term goal for after college, and if we want to continue our education, we can.”

The KCC Medical Assistant Program was founded six years ago and has been growing under the guidance of program coordinator Victoria Mathis, who has a doctorate of nursing science from University of Manoa.

“I created the program because there was not just a need on campus, but a massive community need to have trained (Medical Assistants) on Kauai,” Mathis said. “I realized that there was a shift in healthcare. There are hardly any nurses in the clinic now, they’re all MAs.”

“It goes by so fast,” Kaui said.

Late nights, ample homework, lab assignments and part-time jobs have kept the students busy, but both said the experience has been worth it and the knowledge gained has been invaluable.

“I have a family member who is a nurse, so that inspired me to do something in the medical field,” Kaui said. “If I could go back and go through the program again, I would.”

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Jessica Else, environmental reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.

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