Meet the Millers – no, not the new TV show on CBS – we have our very own Millers at Carrington College. Jeff and Katherine Miller are a married couple studying the Medical Assisting program together at the Boise, Idaho, campus. They started the program on May 6th this year and they aim to finish the program on March 7th 2014.
The first question for Kathy had to be about how they came to be in the same program at the same time?
“We were both working as managers for the same construction company here in Boise, but some things started to happen that we weren’t very comfortable with, for our staff especially, so we decided it would be best if we left. We both took a leap of faith and quit to go back to school.”
Coming from a career in road construction, I was curious to hear why they chose the medical field?
“Mostly it was the growth of the health care industry; we decided that if we were going to make a career change, then we should choose a growth area. We may eventually take different career paths, but we both decided on starting with Medical Assisting together.”
Jeff and Katherine are still newlyweds – they’ve been married just a couple of years. Having worked together for the last few years, they know that they really enjoy each other’s company. In fact they find it great to have someone who understands exactly how their day went, or exactly what they’re talking about. There are many positives, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t minor challenges along the way, as Jeff explains.
“It makes it easier for the commute and with homework…sometimes! But we do like to study and do our homework at different times, so that can be kind of a challenge!”
As Jeff explains, going back to school was a big decision for them both; they wanted to make sure they made the right choice of school, so they did a lot of research.
“We looked at about four or five different schools. At the time we were still in the process of deciding exactly which program to choose, so we looked at all the local schools to see what they had to offer.”
A couple of features really stood out when they visited Carrington College, including the fact that the Medical Assisting program at Boise is accredited.* For Jeff and Kathy, the fact that the school takes the time and effort to seek regular peer review and assessment said a lot about its commitment to quality.
“Accreditation was important for us, but another feature that really caught our eye was the simulation lab. That really appealed to me; it gives us the opportunity to get very hands-on with manikins, and have a very life-like experience without the anxiety of possibly harming a patient as we learn.”
So having chosen Carrington College, why the Medical Assisting program? I put that question to Jeff first.
“My brother’s a physical therapist, so I had considered the PTA [Physical Therapist Assistant] program, but it’s about 10 months longer and a little more than twice the cost. My main goal is to get some clinical experience and then consider Health Care Administration, so I didn’t really mind which direction I took to start. I’m glad I went with Medical Assisting though; I like being on the front line, dealing with the patients, and getting that valuable clinical experience.”
Kathy had a less clinical reason for choosing her program…
“I think I have an over abundance of love! My family says that I smother them. So I figured that if I got a job where I could express my caring, nurturing side away from home, then maybe I wouldn’t smother the family as much once I got home!”
I asked Kathy why she chose Medical Assisting over Practical Nursing for example, another career ideal for her caring, nurturing side, and a program available at the Carrington College Boise campus.
“I don’t think the schooling is as intense; but more importantly for me the MA program isn’t as long. I’ll be 40 when I graduate and Jeff will be 42, so it was being able to earn our certificates fast, so we can get back out into the workplace and get those paychecks coming in – to get that income flowing again.”
Going back to school mid-career is always a challenge, so I asked Jeff and Kathy what they’d learned about themselves in the months since they’ve been back in a classroom.
Jeff – “I was actually thinking of an answer for her – she’s not half as afraid of needles anymore! I went to West Point, the United States Military Academy, right after high school. My main concern this time around was whether I’d be able to retain stuff that I’d read. I’ve discovered that I can – so that was a pleasant surprise! But being 41, I have also found that I can’t burn the candle at both ends like I used to. I now need my sleep more than I can remember needing it back then!”
Kathy – “I was never an ‘A’ student in school, so I was really scared to go back. I didn’t know if my study habits or my mind was going to work being 40 years old! But I was pleasantly surprised, I’ve found myself asking questions beyond what’s in the book, to gain more knowledge. Our instructor has been in the field for 20+ years – every question we ask her, she has an answer for. I find myself wanting more knowledge and that surprised me.”
Moving from an industry like road construction/traffic control into health care is quite the jump, so I wondered if either of them had thought about joining the health care industry earlier in their careers? It seems that while they had both considered the idea in different capacities, they’d never really acted on those thoughts, but now their career plans are in full focus.
Kathy – “I’d always wanted to work in the OB ward up at the hospital, so I guess I’d always had an inkling for health care – I’d just never gone out and done it. Now that I know that my brain is still functioning, I’m really and truly looking to go into the Nursing program at Carrington in the next couple of years. I’d love to be a nurse in OB, or family practice.”
Jeff – “I was in the military for five years when I was younger, and we have the Boise VA Medical Center here. I’ve always kind of thought that I’d like to move in that direction. That’s actually what I thought I was going to do when we decided to leave the last company, but I don’t have anyone in my network to help me get in there.
I thought a Medical Assisting certificate, also hopefully an externship there, might help me get a foot in the door. I do want to get a good year of clinical experience under my belt and then go back and look at what kind of bachelor’s degree I need to get into administration. Ideally working somewhere like the VA Center. I’d like to be able to help the older generation there. I didn’t have to go on any combat tours during my five years – I was lucky. I’d like to pay back those who did in some small way.”
Although they are both really enjoying the challenge of being back at school, the amount of work required has taken them a little by surprise…as Kathy points out.
“It’s a lot faster pace than we ever thought it was going to be. We have a lot more homework than I’d anticipated. Just this week alone we have six different chapters to read! We knew it was an accelerated program, but some mods are more accelerated than others! But we love it, we have no regrets at all.
The staff and teachers are always there to help us, supporting us. It’s almost like a close knit community or family. We’ve made a few friends that I think will become lifelong friends.”
Finally I asked the Millers for some advice to share with new students, or those thinking about enrolling.
“The best advice I can give is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your teachers or your fellow students if you’re unsure about something. Once you start falling behind, you can fall behind fast. Network with your classmates, exchange phone numbers, make the most of each other. In our experience, watching new students come in every six weeks, it seems to be the ones who keep to themselves that don’t excel. So make friends; if nothing else it makes the whole college experience more pleasant.”
*Medical Assisting certificate and associate degree programs at the Boise campus are accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES), 7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 314 N, Falls Church, VA 22043, 703 917 9503. The Bureau’s web address is: www.abhes.org.
For comprehensive consumer information on our programs, please visit carrington.edu. Program availability varies by location.