Carrington San Jose 2020 Graduate Entered her Life with Challenges That Helped Shape her into the Medical Assistant she is Today
Carrington San Jose 2020 graduate Samantha Sheridan entered her life with challenges that helped shape her into the compassionate and determined Medical Assistant (MA) she is today. Before the age of three, she had endured numerous invasive tests and recovered successfully from two open heart surgeries. Because of what Samantha describes as a learning difference, she didn’t speak during her first four years and so she adapted to learn and communicate through American Sign Language. Thankfully, her family was incredibly supportive of her care and education all along the way. She received the help she needed, thrived, and eventually received her Bachelors in Sociology from Regis University in Denver, Colorado in 2016, achieving honors in the process.
On the top of her graduation cap she wrote, “We all have a story.”
Samantha wasn’t just interested in sharing her story, though. She wanted to hear other people’s stories and help them like she had been helped. This is why she steadily and regularly volunteered in places like schools, homeless shelters, a pediatric outpatient occupational therapy clinic, and the Veterans Administration where she met and heard stories from clients with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. With each story she heard, her desire to work in a career helping people grew. She explained, “The more we get to know each other’s story, the more we can help each other.”
She was considering becoming an Occupational Therapist (OT) because they had helped her so much, but she wasn’t feeling totally committed to that path. At the same time, she had an important birthday coming up that put her under a deadline to make a critical decision about her career path.
Like many Americans approaching their 26th birthday, Samantha was going to lose the health insurance she received through her parents. For someone who is twenty-five and doesn’t have an underlying health issue that is often already cause for concern, but it is cause for panic for someone like Samantha. Even though her health has been stable, she still has to see a cardiologist twice per year for testing on her pre-existing heart condition. She needed to act fast and find a career that she enjoyed where she would get health insurance through her employer. She decided against becoming an OT because she wanted to do something more physically active and hands-on. She also needed a program that didn’t take as long to complete due to her timeline. Becoming a MA in as few as nine months at Carrington looked like the perfect fit.
Samantha describes herself as “more of an observer than the center of attention.” There is nothing wrong with being that kind of person. Someone with that personality just might find the collaborative and outgoing aspects of medicine a bit challenging initially. Medicine has moved in the direction of expecting team members to speak up, take initiative, and be more involved in problem-solving duties in recent years. Knowing this, Samantha said she utilized her time at Carrington as an opportunity for improving these skills.
She said,“I’ve always known that was an area that I needed to improve… and so this was one aspect I really worked on while at Carrington. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but eventually I gained confidence and a voice, which I was able to use to help others through the avenue of becoming a mentor.”
She didn’t miss one day during the entire program and was nominated by Carrington instructor Miss Margarita Perez during the beginning of the second term to be a mentor for other students during the third term. Stepping into the mentorship position and helping other students gave Samantha plenty of opportunities to interact and collaborate while also building confidence. At orientations, she also met with prospective students to answer their questions and tell them about the experience of being in the MA program.
The appearance of Coronavirus in California forced the last two and a half weeks of her MA program at Carrington to be completed online. She then started a six week externship on March 31st at Blossom Hill Medical Group in Los Gatos as the pandemic continued to grow. She learned on site as the family medicine practice responded to the pandemic and adapted to treat patients safely. Even though that was an unconventional and more stressful time to start an externship, it likely suited Samantha’s personality well for those exact same reasons. She has a lifetime record of exceling during times of adversity and loves solving problems.
She even said, “I love problem solving. If there is a problem, I will do anything to get it fixed. I think that’s a characteristic, or a trait, a MA should have.”
Today she is insured and happily working at an internal medicine practice with multiple providers just a short drive from her home in Sunnyvale. She helps in both the front and back of the practice with things like patient vaccinations, EKG, blood pressure, insurance processing, and patient paperwork. It keeps her active the way she likes, and importantly, she gets to hear patient’s stories while helping them during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
She says, “Now that I am three weeks into serving the front lines, I can honestly say that Carrington prepared me well with not only dedicated staff, but the skills needed to perform all the necessary duties of a successful MA. Pursuing a career in the medical field only seemed fitting for someone who enjoys interacting and helping people, but also giving back to the community that once helped give me life.”