What’s your blood type, and why does it even matter?
The Certified Medical Assistant Review class visited Onalaska Luther High School recently to show sophomore biology students the answer to that question. The medical assistant (MA) students were accompanied and supervised by hematology instructor Pearl Havlick and Medical Assistant Program Chair Jackie Lee.
Jackie Lee described this service learning project as “a collaborative learning experience for both our students and their students.
Our students will be applying the knowledge of blood typing that was learned in Hematology and applying it in a real situation,” Jackie said. “Their students will be learning and observing the blood typing process as well as their own blood types.”
The Importance of Blood Type Awareness
Jackie Lee indicated blood typing as one of a medical assistant duties by noting, “The importance of knowing your blood type is to prevent the risk of receiving incompatible blood at a time of need.”
“If two different blood types are mixed, it can lead to a clumping of blood cells that can be potentially fatal,” she continued. Jackie also pointed out the importance of the experience for the MA students. “If medical assistants are not aware of blood typing, it is more likely that a patient could receive incompatible blood, endangering their life.”
Learning with Local Students
Onalaska Luther High School biology teacher Mark Leorsch also appreciated the collaborative learning environment.
“It’s a good experience,” he said. “Instead of just talking about it, they can actually see what blood type they are.”
Indeed, if they wished, the sophomore Biology students could watch the entire process, from having their finger poked, watching the MA students add a serum to the drop of blood, and observing as their blood type was determined. “It’s a good visual that’s going to stick with them,” Mark concluded.
Medical administrative assistant student Stacy Beardmore agreed. “This event showed students about blood typing,” she said. “It gave them a visual, and it will also help them remember their blood type.”
Practicing for Career Readiness
Stacy also thought this experience would prepare her for a future career. “My favorite part of this experience was interacting with the students,” she said. “It’s helpful to interact with the public.”
Another MAA student Andrea Lee participated because the experience was a good opportunity for to practice her skills. “I really enjoy working in the field, and yet this was a low-stress environment,” she said.
Building Confidence Outside the Classroom
Additionally, it offered her the chance to practice the procedure outside of the classroom and gain confidence. “Confidence is key. Be prepared, and don’t be afraid to verify your findings with others or ask the instructor questions,” she suggested. “It’s a learning process, so never be afraid to learn.”
Audrey Brooks, who is earning a medical assistant degree, echoed her classmate’s sentiments. “This experience helped me feel more confident, and it helped me feel less stressed,” she added.
A stress-free environment was also key for helping the Onalaska Luther students feel comfortable during the procedure. While working, the Globe MA students practiced communicating with their patients by asking if they already knew their blood type, reassuring them, and checking their level of comfort.
Such experience is invaluable to Globe students to build skills and confidence. “Helping students gain confidence in their skills is an important aspect of education that service learning provides,” said Globe University-La Crosse Campus Director Stephanie Donovan. Donovan fully supports service learning projects, and encourages instructors to employ such projects in their classes.