You Found Bacteria Where?! Medical Assistant Students Teach Healthy Handwashing Tips

Throughout the spring quarter, medical assistant degree students in the Microbiology and Urinalysis class dove into the basics of clinical microbiology and routine urinalysis. As part of their service and applied learning project, these students from Globe University-Madison West presented to residents at Coventry Village the importance of keeping bacteria at bay.

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Medical assistant students (from left) Cheri Lane, Paula Zenz, Amanda Soto-Wadel, Caitlin Miller and Karla Dean present proper hand washing techniques to residents at Coventry Village.

“This quarter we’ve learned a lot about different kinds of bacteria that can be found anywhere and how it can affect our bodies and make us sick,” explained Paula Zenz, student in the medical assistant program.  “To come here, we felt it was really important to talk about hand washing and keeping things clean. This includes disinfecting surfaces year round because it’s those little germs—the everyday stuff is what sometimes the elderly just can’t fight off. So we wanted to be sure they understood that they have a part in making sure they are healthy and it was an easy thing to do.”

Medical assistant degree

Karla Dean, medical assistant student, disinfects a resident’s walker.

Student Caitlin Miller added, “The hand washing is big because your hands are the first mode of transmission. Your hands touch everything. Your hands are what touch your eyes, your mouth and your nose and that’s where you are going to get sick.”

The medical assistant students presented proper hand washing and sanitizing techniques to the residents. They also created a pamphlet that focused on proper cleaning and disinfecting techniques. Lastly, the students disinfected the attendees’ walkers.

Medical assistant degree

Students also showed results from surface samples of the school on blood agar plates. Students collected samples and processed the bacteria cultures as part of their applied learning project.

One may think that this type of information would be common knowledge, but the students disagreed. “It could serve as a reminder of what they learned a long time ago, but things have changed from when they were taught hand washing to the practices now,” Miller said.

Residents were very thankful for the presentation and the company the students offered for that brief time period and students recognized that. “Being able to converse with them made their day,” Miller said.

Zenz agreed, “Us coming here to clean their walkers and talking to them—they will talk about this for weeks!”

In the end, students noted that not all bacteria is bad—99 percent is actually good bacteria—however, their message remained the same: Wash your hands!