What were your career plans prior to studying to be a professional medical assistant (PMA) at IOT? What motivated the change?
I was a real estate agent and part owner of a real estate firm in Modesto, California. The housing market plummeted, and sales were down to near none. My partner and I decided it was time to close our doors before accumulating more debt. We set a closure date for two months out, and I was left to figure out the next steps to feed my family. As a single mother of two, I was very worried and panicked. When I was young I wanted to be in healthcare because I witnessed my dad receive poor healthcare services, and I wanted to be the difference! I began calling schools and I found online and came across the Institute of Technology Modesto.
What interested you about the professional medical assistant program at IOT?
After leaving an inquiry with IOT, within minutes I was contacted by Christine who set an appointment for me to come meet her the next day. The moment I walked in those front doors I felt it was “my place.” The feeling of family ran through me. Christine was high energy, funny but honest and followed through with all she promised. That same day I took an entrance exam. I passed! She took me on a tour, and each class seemed happy and engaged. The instructor was bubbly and her smile was contagious. I officially signed up that same day to attend the evening class the following week.
What was your experience like in the professional medical assistant program at IOT?
My first day I was nervous and worried about being the new kid, but the entire class and instructor welcomed me with such compassion and open arms. I was offered support, tutoring, and even entry into a study group which eventually became my close friends to this very day. I learned a lot, and it felt like fun, not a chore or a task.
I was also offered a federal work-study position in financial aid, which helped me pay bills while I went to school and gave me more work experience. I was very grateful.
Any standout PMA classes or experiences you’d like to share?
Each MOD was full of learning which was also fun for me. My passion for healthcare grew each day. Pharmacology and hematology were definitely my favorites because they taught me a lot of nursing skills and were very hands-on. I enjoyed drawing blood and learning injections as well as how to calculate medications for administration. My extern was also very helpful in teaching me the real-life healthcare worker experience.
How has your career trajectory been after graduation?
I was offered a position as a professional medical assistant at my extern site on my first day of extern. My dream was coming true: I was going to be the difference! The manager, Jodi, was astounded at my level of understanding and ability. She told me that she most liked how I stood out and wanted to learn anything I could, even on my first day. I accepted the PMA position and was paid to complete my extern. I worked there for two years when the company was bought out by another, and they wanted all new staff. I made the move to Merced at that time; I applied at a large medical group there and was again employed as a PMA within four days.
My leadership skills became useful, and within months I was lead management of the medical assistants at that location. I grew and learned each day, eventually becoming manager of all locations and medical assistants. I spent seven years there until I became presented with the opportunity to teach where I learned, Institute of Technology Modesto.
What is it like being a professional medical assistant instructor for IOT?
Being a new instructor for the PMA program, I was very nervous, and I wasn’t quite sure that I would be a fit for the job. I’ve definitely come a very long way. I’ve now been teaching medical assistant courses at Institute of Technology Modesto for four years, and I absolutely love it. I always try to teach the way that I learn. I tell my students what is really expected out there in the field because I have been a medical assistant in the field as well. I love giving back to the students because at one time, I was one too, and I had one of the most amazing instructors – so I try my best to be that for my students.
I’m active in community service with my classes and many types of events which gives students a chance to give back and showcase their skills. Teaching medical assistant classes at Institute of Technology Modesto is very rewarding, and I’m proud to say that I am part of IOT Modesto. I also work in a hospital, and I feel that is helpful in giving me the ability to provide fresh, current, and accurate information about the medical field to my students.
What would you say to someone considering IOT?
You will learn a lot about healthcare, both hands-on and theory. You will not become just another student at Institute of Technology Modesto. You will feel like you are part of a family here. No student is left behind, and we have an amazing team. Support is in abundance here from community resources for housing, childcare, and even transportation, as well as tutoring before and after class, job placement assistance, resume building skills and assistance, professional development, time management skills, community engagement exposure, and a lifelong team of professionals who are here for you!