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Date: August 13, 2020
CONTACT: Lisa Garrett,

By Lisa Garrett

Laura McClain Receives Tri-County Technical College’s

Presidential Medallion for Instructional Excellence

PENDLETON --- Laura McClain, program director for Tri-County Technical College’s medical assisting program, was honored August 13 with the highest award presented to the faculty. She received the Presidential Medallion for Instructional Excellence at the College's virtual fall convocation.

            TCTC President Dr. Galen DeHay, presented the medallion to the Iva resident.  The medallion is presented each year to the instructor who has contributed the most during the academic year to the profession of teaching, to the development of the College and to the students.

“This is a wonderful honor, said McClain.  “I have always demanded excellence of myself and my students, so to be recognized for doing what is natural for me was unexpected. I am extremely thankful for a college that supports my passion and desire to give the students the tools and resources they need to be successful and have that transformative student experience we speak about often.  My way to give back is to serve the college in every capacity I can.  I am truly humbled.  It takes a village, so my recognition is for all those who also assist me day in and day out.”

            McClain joined the College in 2014 with 25 years of experience working as a certified medical assistant in OB-GYN and family practice, along with eight years as an RN in the medical/surgical unit, labor and delivery, long-term care and in hospitals. 

            “Laura is a valued faculty member of the college who has been constantly working and improving the medical assisting program since she was hired,” said Donna Palmer, health professions department head. “She works tirelessly to promote her program, ensures her students’ success and represents the college on multiple levels. She is enthusiastic and passionate about the medical assisting program and profession and her personal and professional growth.”

Palmer said McClain provides quality instruction, which creates substantive change in learners.

 “Laura has continuously improved and engaged the medical assisting students in comprehensive learning by presenting a variety of different learning strategies and teaching techniques. She has applied interactive teaching and active learning to help her students retain the necessary information to be successful in her program. The students use case studies, which provide them the opportunity to think critically, use what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-life experiences,” Palmer wrote in her nomination letter.

 Medical assisting is a unique program because students are trained in both administrative and clinical procedures.  Graduates are cross-trained in every area of ambulatory care.  Their duties range from hands-on patient care, under physician and nursing supervision, to front office duties.

For the past three years, students have achieved 100% pass rates on the American Association of Medical Assistants’ Certification Examination.

 The program annually meets the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) standard for outcomes assessment thresholds for student retention, job placement and employer satisfaction surveys.

 In 2019 the program was granted full, continuing accreditation through fall 2028 by CAAHEP. This is the maximum reaffirmation of accreditation a program can receive and accreditation status approval was without additional reporting requirements.

McClain has incorporated service learning activities into the curriculum since she joined the College in 2014.  She believes community service keeps students engaged and provides an opportunity for them to give back to the community.

In the summer of 2019 students volunteered at Our Daily Bread, a homeless shelter in Seneca, as one of their service learning projects. Their activities included mowing grass, trimming shrubs, weed eating, cleaning the parking lot and stocking food in the pantry. 

 “Our students are patient advocates and need to be aware of services available to assist those who may have a need, are under-resourced or fall on difficult times and communicate that to providers when applicable.  The goal is to educate them on as many resources that may be out there to help meet the needs of the patients,” McClain said at the time. 

“Students not only need to value the communities in which they live but also give back to those same communities, and this can help them to do that.  Service learning allows students to advocate and market such resources to the public.” 

Palmer says McClain consistently evaluates learning outcomes and makes evidenced-based improvements to learning.

Last year McClain presented a project charter to the executive staff for renovation of her classroom, lab and clinical space. “The clinical outcome provides her students with quality learning experiences representative of clinical facilities that they will encounter in their externships.  Her leadership through this entire project provided an extremely organized, proficient experience for all of those involved,” said Palmer.

McClain serves in leadership roles in her professional organizations and is respected by her peers, in addition to the students and college administration.

 “Laura is respected both at our college and among other technical and community college systems and recognized as a distinguished leader. Her organizational skills are impeccable, as demonstrated by her leadership within our college and other organizations,” said Palmer.

In February McClain was elected education peer group chair for the S.C. Society of Medical Assistants.  She is responsible for overseeing communication, facilitating collaboration, and networking with other S.C. Medical Assisting educators across the state. Another responsibility is to be in charge of the Bowl of Knowledge at the state conference each year. The Bowl of Knowledge is a friendly game that tests medical assisting students’ cognitive information relating to the field (as students).  As education peer group chair, McClain also sits on the board of the organization.

In 2018 McClain, was one of seven medical assisting professionals chosen to review the third edition of The Electronic Health Record for the Physician’s Office for SimChart by Elsevier.

At the College, she has served as South Carolina Technical Education Association president for three years, as a faculty senate representative and is a member of the Employee Recognition and Celebration Project Charter.

 “Laura takes every opportunity to develop her personal and professional development through lifelong learning,” said Palmer.  She attends professional development offerings sponsored by the college, as well as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) annual educator’s conference.  She maintains both her nursing license and certification in medical assisting by ensuring that she meets the requirements for continuing education mandated by her certifying and licensing agencies.     

 She is a 1989 alumna and outstanding graduate of Piedmont Technical College’s medical assisting program and in 2006 earned an associate degree in nursing.

   She is a member of Little River Baptist Church in Honea Path.  She and her husband, Bryan, have two adult children, Hailey and Jacob.  Her son and daughter-in law, Breana, have a two-year-old son, Cohen, and are expecting a second child in 2021.


About Tri-County Technical College
Tri-County Technical College, a public two-year community and technical college serving Anderson, Oconee and Pickens Counties in South Carolina, enrolls more than 9,000 students annually and offers more than 70 major fields of study, including computer technology, industrial electronics, mechatronics, nursing, and university transfer programs. Tri-County boasts the highest student success rate among two-year colleges in the state and ranks in the top one percent nationally for successful student transfers to four-year colleges and universities.