After Providing Years of Care for Elder Family Members Annabell Enrolls in Medical Assisting Program
Annabell Vila was just seventeen years old when she started looking at the Medical Assisting program at Carrington College in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That was 2019 and by then she had already provided several years of care for a family elder and decided she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. Her friends who had graduated from Carrington’s MA program were highly recommending it to her, so her curiosity had already been piqued. Then, a tour of the campus and visit with staff onsite was enough for her to recognize it would be the right place for her. She said
“I had a couple of friends who went to Carrington. They just raved about it. The students—the teachers—the staff—everything! They just loved it. I thought, if they loved it so much, then I just might too. Then I visited the campus and looked around. I loved it—the feel and energy. It was just really good!”
After choosing Carrington and starting the daytime program in July of 2019, Annabell decided that evening classes would work better for her learning style and schedule, so she arranged to switch. She said, “I enjoyed the program. Then I moved from days to nights and I loved that even more. The night classes were much smaller. The teacher is amazing—I loved Christina with my whole heart. It’s different going from a bigger daytime class to a smaller nighttime class because you get more time with the teacher. You bond a lot with them.”
Even though Annabell started the MA program just three days before she turned eighteen and became an adult, this wasn’t her first experience with healthcare. She always knew that she wanted to help people and had already dedicated several years of her life to caring for a sick loved one.
Annabell said, “I love helping people. When I was around 13, my auntie got really sick. I moved in with her and took on the full responsibility of caring for her because she couldn’t take care of herself. It was a rough four years. So, I think that is what helped me decide to become a medical assistant.”
Annabell also is the second child and oldest daughter in a family with five children. Family means everything to her, and she has taken her role as an older sister to three younger siblings just as seriously as she took her role caring for her disabled aunt. Being there for them has also motivated her to pursue her education and career. She said, “being an older sister changes you. My siblings are my world. That’s why I work every day—it’s for them.”
As the program went on, Annabell discovered that her favorite subject was injectables. She learned how to administer intramuscular, subcutaneous, and intradermal injections. She also learned how to collect patients’ vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen while logging them into organized patient records. Then there was the important communications portion that ranged from answering calls and scheduling appointments to meeting patients directly and charting their lists of medications—to name just a few things. When it came time for her to do her externship, she took a position at a small, but very busy, podiatry practice called Advanced Foot and Ankle in Albuquerque. Her favorite part of the experience was learning how to perform x-rays. Doing them piqued her interest in pursuing further education in radiologic studies later in her career. The wonderful thing about healthcare careers is they allow for a lot of growth and movement over time.
Annabell was about a week away from finishing her externship at the podiatry clinic and graduating when she decided to join her boyfriend and 14-year-old sister out at a restaurant on a Saturday evening for dinner in July. They decided to take Annabell’s brand new car for a test drive around Albuquerque after the meal.
She explained, “I said ‘let’s test out the new car and see how it drives.’ I was at the intersection of San Mateo and Zuni when a pickup truck ran a red light and took out my car. Literally took it out—the whole front end!”
Sadly, the driver of the truck was intoxicated and uninsured. The new car that Annabell was so excited to take out for a test drive was totaled. The good news is everyone involved in the accident survived. Her sister and boyfriend incurred mild concussions while Annabell received multiple injuries—including three breaks in her wrist and a painful impact to her knee. She needed to take a leave of absence from school and her externship to heal and recover. At first, Annabell hoped that time away would only be for about a month but then she found that she needed more time. She was pleased to receive a lot of compassion and understanding from the team at Carrington. She said, “I had a lot of support from the teachers but especially from Kimberly (Career Services).
She helped me a lot. I pushed it out—I was supposed to go back in August after the accident and my dad was just like, ‘no, that’s not going to happen’ and I was like, ‘I just can’t.’ So, I pushed it out to September, and again my dad was like, ‘you still aren’t ready to go back.’ So, I pushed it out to October. That’s why it took so long, and she was just so patient… because I was impatient already! I didn’t want to wait anymore. I just wanted to finish. And they were so great, they were like, ‘don’t worry, we will figure it out when you are ready, and everything will be ok.’ Kimberly and Bonnie were just so supportive, they helped me a lot. I wouldn’t trade their help for the world.”
Eventually, Annabell was able to go back and finish her externship and graduate. Career Services searched for jobs while she also searched and worked at the mall during the 2020 holiday season. Then in January one of her connections led to an opportunity for her to interview to be an MA at Sage Neuroscience Center, a leading medical facility that focuses on behavioral health and addiction treatment in Albuquerque. They informed Annabell during her interview of the dire situation they are facing during the COVID19 pandemic. “They said that with the pandemic happening, it’s about as bad as it can get. Many people are really depressed and anxious right now and need help.”
Fortunately for the patients of Sage, Annabell’s education, experience, and persistence in the face of adversity combined to get her the job. She also says that her recent car accident taught her more about the experience of what it is like to be a patient, which she will use to be a more sensitive MA in a mental health setting. She said, “what happened to me gives me a better perspective on how patients are and how they feel because maybe they can just be scared, and I totally understand.”
Annabell started in her new position in mid-January 2021 and like all medical offices, Sage Neuroscience has made major adjustments to their operations to limit transmission of COVID19. This means that instead of seeing patients face-to-face in the practice, she mostly talks to them on the phone. Rather than attending in-person appointments, patients “see” providers via TeleVisits that she sets-up and schedules for them to do via telephone or computer.
This is a bit different from what she expected when she started going to school to become a MA and in time it will change. Still, she described Sage Neuroscience as “amazing” and said, “I love it here!” Annabell is realizing her dream of helping others thanks to her persistence and resilience in the face of adversity.