Mary completed her externship in April, then walked the stage and got her first job at a doctor’s office in June.
Thanks for your time Mary; tell us how you found your job.
I got the lead for this position from the Career Services team at my Carrington campus – it’s always worth staying in touch! My extern site wanted to hire me, but unfortunately they didn’t have the finances to support another medical assistant.
I got hired by a doctor who owns her own neurology office. There’s just the one doctor and three medical assistants, including me. It’s nice to actually get the feel of the job finally. It’s different when you’re in class and when you’re actually ‘out there’.
How was your externship? Did it prepare you?
I think I did really well; it was disappointing that they wanted to hire me but couldn’t. The role in this job is very similar, but I guess I got to do a few more things in the externship than I do here, like giving injections. But that’s because this is neurology; we’re working with nerves and most injections are into the spine, which I’m not certified to do.
The patient interaction is the same, and I get to do most of the same things. I guess I do a little more paperwork now than I did as an extern, but there’s not much of a difference really. The experience set me up pretty well for the job.
Why did you choose a career in health care?
I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field, but I didn’t really know where to start or how I would get there. I’ve always been a really caring person; I always tend to put other people before myself. I’ve been called selfless, and somewhat humble. I took care of my grandparents for a while before my grandpa passed away. That experience really made me want to reach out; I can relate to people and caring for others makes me feel good.
I guess I’d always thought I’d study to become a registered nurse (RN) right off the bat, but as I got older I realized that was a little impractical.
What do you mean by that?
I come from a real small family; I’m actually the first one in my family to finish college. I had to grow up quick on my own, start paying bills straight out of high school – things like that. My mom was a single mom, so basically I had to start fending for myself pretty quickly. But I really wanted to find a career.
So medical assisting is the first step? Is your goal still to become an RN?
Maybe not a registered nurse; I’m looking more at other options. Maybe an ultra sound technician – I’m interested in medical radiography and X-rays. Or maybe a surgical technician. Whatever I choose, I’m going to have to work and go to school part-time. I was working during the day and going to school at night to complete the Medical Assisting program.
Learning more about the many different aspects of health care during the MA program really opened my eyes to the opportunities out there; reading all those chapters has definitely made me more aware. There are so many things I’d love to go into; I’d love to work in Oncology for example.
How did you come to choose Carrington?
Honestly I was scared of the idea of a ‘trade school’, and of getting into debt with a student loan. But my boyfriend, Jordan, went to Carrington; he’s been a registered dental assistant for five years now and almost paid off his student loans.* So he’s the one who really pushed me; he convinced me I could do this. Honestly without him I wouldn’t have signed the papers to start school. He and my mom had the most faith in me.
Had you heard of Carrington before?
Actually someone from Carrington came to my high school my senior year to speak to the students. But I remember putting my head down and not even listening because, at the time, I was convinced that I was going to go to junior college for two years and then transfer to a four year school.
What the most valuable thing you learned about yourself at Carrington?
That I’m actually good at what I’m doing. Like I said earlier, people (teachers/classmates/ employers) have always found me very humble. I’m really good at what I do, but I find it really hard to admit that or talk about myself in a positive way. That was one of the most difficult things for me in interviews, to project some self-confidence.
What surprised you the most?
To be honest I’d held my mom’s hands while getting injections until I was probably 17 years old. So giving injections in class was a very big step for me. On that first injection day my teacher, Ms. Murphy, told me I was a natural. That surprised me because I’ve always hated needles! I’m thinking about getting my phlebotomy certificate in the next month because I’m really good at finding veins that you can’t even see. The more qualifications and certifications I can get on my resume the better!
Ms. Murphy was without doubt the best teacher I’ve ever had. As well as always being there for me with anything in class, she helped me out personally with a few things that I went through in school.
What do the next three years hold for you?
I want to figure out the direction of my health care career within the next 12 months. Then once I’ve made that decision, I’m definitely going to go back to school – either to study for a bachelor’s degree with DeVry University, or I’ll go back to Carrington.
I’ve looked into the Surgical Technology program at the Citrus Heights campus, but I’m not too sure about that yet – nothing is set in stone. But I will definitely be in school again in three years.
What about longer term? Where do you see yourself working eventually?
Eventually, long term, I’d love to work in the Oncology department in a hospital. One of those two, either Oncology or in a hospital. But the two combined, that would be ideal.
You’ve mentioned Oncology a couple of times; are there personal reasons behind that?
Definitely. There have been a lot of cancer battles in my family. So it’s something very personal to me; I’ve seen my family go through it, so I’d love to be able to help other families and patients get through those really tough times.
Do you have any regrets, looking back on your time at Carrington?
Maybe not getting perfect attendance on a couple of courses; I had the flu once and maybe I could have battled through and got to class…but really I’m not a person who regrets anything – mistakes are all lessons learned.
*The time it takes to repay a student loan will vary. Borrowing money to help finance your education is a big step. It’s important to take the time to understand the responsibilities that come with that assistance. For more information, see http://carrington.edu/financial-aid/financial-responsibility/.