West-MEC student excels in the Medical Assisting Program despite vision challenges

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:33 PM EDT

PHOENIX, Oct. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), a career and technical education district in the Phoenix Metropolitan area, recently named Margaret (Maggie) McClure a top performer in its Medical Assisting Program. McClure has Stargardt's macular degeneration, and the impairment has become her motivation to excel in West-MEC's Medical Assisting Program.

Margaret (Maggie) McClure practices drawing blood on another student, part of the Medical...
Margaret (Maggie) McClure practices drawing blood on another student, part of the Medical Assisting Program curriculum at West-MEC.

Stargardt's is a rare condition where the central vision is affected. This vision is needed for detailed tasks like reading and recognizing faces. As McClure fills a syringe with practiced ease, it is hard to imagine that she struggled in class when she first joined West-MEC.

McClure has faced many challenges, especially as she encountered online learning amid the pandemic. The textbook wasn't accessible, and many assignments were visually demanding. The Exceptional Student Services (ESS) team at West-MEC jumped in to support her.

Shelly Thome, director of ESS said, "Once we were made aware of Maggie's visual disability, we called a meeting to learn how we could collaborate to assist her in best accessing all aspects of our program. Maggie's high school instructor, a vision specialist, aided us in developing adaptations that provided Maggie the same rigor and experiences as every student."

Lysa Thank, a Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), and instructor in the program spent extra hours helping facilitate Maggie's learning in both virtual and physical environments.

"I did a lot of research online and would practice with the tools Maggie had, a special magnifier, which I practiced underneath," said Thank. "It was difficult because even though it made everything bigger, there was no depth perception. So, I had Maggie take it home and practice until she got a feel for it."

To be named a top performer in the Medical Assisting Program at West-MEC, students must demonstrate that they are comfortable administering and receiving injections, handling bodily fluids, distinguish lower volume sounds, have strong hand-eye coordination with fine motor skills and stamina and the manual dexterity and physical ability to use tools, equipment, and machinery.

Venipuncture, drawing blood from the veins, was a challenge for McClure. She could not see the vein and had to rely on her other senses, working around the hurdle by palpitating the arm to find the vein.

"There were many times that I wanted to give up but Ms. Thank told me to keep going and not to worry about it, that we would find another solution to the problem," said McClure.

Thank added, "I am a medical assistant turned teacher. I have no experience working with someone with a visual impairment, but I am good at thinking outside the box. I love this kid, she gave me a chance to help her, and we grew to trust each other."

McClure, deftly piercing the small membrane of a vial with her syringe under a magnifier, fully engaged in the class and thriving, it is a testimony to her resilience and the support received from her family, school and the community.

After McClure completes her education through West-MEC she will become a medical assistant and can further her career in the field.

About West-MEC

West-MEC is a career technical education public school district that focuses solely on innovative career and technical education (CTE) programs that prepare students to enter the workforce and pursue continuing education. West-MEC CTE programs provide students opportunities to earn college credit and industry credentials. West-MEC serves more than 37,000 students from 48 high schools, across 3,600 square miles in the northern and western cities of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. West-MEC now also offers adult education programs. Visit www.west-mec.edu for more information about West-MEC's career-driven education opportunities or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Media Contact
Ellanna Koontz

Western Maricopa Education Center is a career and technical education district in the Phoenix...
Western Maricopa Education Center is a career and technical education district in the Phoenix Metropolitan area.

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SOURCE Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC)

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