Ten years ago as an 18 year old, Juan Sanchez had a very personal reason for choosing our Medical Assisting program. Juan had never really considered a career in health care, he actually wanted to work in law enforcement; but devotion to his brother, Carlos, was the reason he enrolled at our Sacramento campus back in 2003.
Juan’s younger brother Carlos, now 24, was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome at an early age. Rett Syndrome is a unique developmental disorder that is usually first recognized in infancy and is often misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy.
“My brother was a special needs child. He’s the reason I chose to study medical assisting. He was sick a lot, in and out of the hospital all the time; I always thought I could do more for him, help take care of him. So that’s when I started thinking about the medical field.”
After High School Juan looked at Medical Assisting programs and he actually took some classes at another college, but he found that they kept changing requirements on him.
“One semester they would tell me I needed to take this class, then once I completed it they would tell me I no longer needed it. They were always switching things on me, it was very frustrating. One day I saw a commercial for Carrington College California; I investigated and they gave me a complete schedule of every class I would have to take, and a date that I could finish by – I really liked that. I always knew where I stood.
My time as a student at Carrington really taught me to grow up; the program was so demanding that I had to mature and see life differently. Everybody was always willing to help – they became like a second family to me.”
Juan graduated in 2004, and was Carlos’ main caregiver for a couple of years, as well as working full time. After graduation, he applied for a few jobs without any luck, until he got a call from the Carrington College California Sacramento campus Career Services department.
“About a month after graduation the school called and asked me if I was working? They sent my resume to a Workers’ Comp clinic they knew was looking for medical assistants. I went to the interview, got hired and worked there for about 5 years.”
Juan wasn’t looking for a career in health care, his passion originally lay elsewhere; he just wanted to help his little brother.
“I always wanted a career in the criminal justice field. I actually got my associate degree in criminal justice while I was working as a medical assistant, so I’d still like to work in the field at some point, but not in the short term. I’m very happy with my current job right now.”
In 2008 Juan saw a position that caught his eye; so he decided to apply for it. The position was as a Medical Assisting program instructor at the Carrington College California Citrus Heights campus.
“I had worked with a lot of students who passed through the clinic for their externships, so I decided to give teaching a try. I started as a night instructor part-time, but in 2009 a full-time position opened up… and here I am.”
Juan always liked helping, which is why he originally wanted to go into law enforcement. But during his time as a medical assistant he discovered that he was helping people in a different way working in the medical field, and more than just the sick and injured.
“As well as patients, I discovered I was helping college students learn what the real world was like. That’s why I thought it would be fun and rewarding to teach them from the beginning, rather than just during their externships.”
So nine years on from graduation, Juan is thoroughly enjoying a teaching career in a field he never anticipated; what’s more his brother Carlos is doing well.
“I’m five years into my teaching career and it is everything I hoped it would be…and more. Carlos is doing great, he’s very healthy, so everything has worked out. He’ll have to live with the condition for ever – he can’t walk, or talk, and lives at home with my parents – but he’s doing very well right now.”
Juan appears to have no regrets about the direction his career has taken, and really enjoys his interaction with his students, especially when they come to him for help and advice. He tries to pass on the same warmth and encouragement to his students that he received at Carrington a decade earlier.
“I try to let my students know that I’m always here for them, available to talk to and to find resources if they need them. I tell them that every time you try to better your life there will be obstacles. You have to learn to overcome those obstacles to succeed. I can’t think of one student that hasn’t had to overcome some kind of obstacle. I tell them – ‘You’ve got this far, why not finish? You’ll have something to show for all your hard work.’ “
As for that career in criminal justice that he wanted when he was younger? Well, it’s not completely off the radar yet.
“I would like to give law enforcement an opportunity at some point in the future, but I just love teaching… so I’m in no rush. I’m young and have plenty of time. I’m going to start on my bachelor’s degree with DeVry in January; I’m just not sure in what yet. I want to take advantage of the education opportunities open to me.”
Many thanks for your time Juan. We really admire the choices you made as a young man to choose a career direction that would, first and foremost, enable you to help your brother – not every 18 year old would make that decision. And our continued thanks for the passion you put into your work as an instructor at our Citrus Heights campus.
For comprehensive consumer information on our Medical Assisting program, visit carrington.edu/degrees/medical-assisting/
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