She hopes to walk the stage at a graduation ceremony in June; June is also her birthday month so that should give her two good reasons to celebrate!
Thanks for your time Allison. Let me start by asking what you’ve been doing since high school.
I didn’t go to college straight out of high school; I’ve been working full-time in customer service jobs. I had my first child, Jackson, in November 2013; we celebrated his first birthday this past Thanksgiving. Having my son was an eye-opening experience. I was like “Oh Man, I have this whole other person to worry about now.” I realized I needed a career, not a job. I also realized I needed to an education to help me provide everything I want for my family.
Is Carrington your first college experience?
Before enrolling here I went to a community college for a couple of classes. I definitely knew I wanted to work in healthcare, so I thought why not take a couple of classes and dip my toe in the water. That’s why I chose Anatomy & Physiology; I thought it would give me a base to jump off from.
I passed Medical Terminology, but I unfortunately failed Anatomy & Physiology. It was a one hour lecture per week, and was so difficult. You sit through this boring lecture and then you’re kind of on your own for a week. I found it hard to immerse myself in it with that schedule. I was very discouraged. That learning environment is very different from Carrington, and definitely not for me.
Why did you choose the Medical Assisting program at Carrington?
My end game is to be a registered nurse (RN). I actually went to tour Carrington for the Practical Nursing program, but once the Enrollment Services Representative gave me the rundown of the schedule I knew it wouldn’t work for me. My husband works, and the schedule was just not going to give me enough time with Jackson, who was just 5 months old at the time. That’s when I decided that Medical Assisting would be a better program for me.
I don’t have any experience in healthcare; there’s so much to learn. But I love how hands-on the program is. We’re doing blood draws, injections, we’re doing vital signs every day. I know it’s getting us really well prepared to go out to work.
Why did you want a career in healthcare?
I’ve always been very drawn to the field. I went through extensive surgeries when I was younger, and I was in out of hospital I don’t know how many times between the ages of 9 and 13. Hospitals are not strange to me; I always felt pretty comfortable in that kind of environment, and I remember how caring the staff was. That really stuck with me. I feel it’s a field I can do well in. Plus people are always going to get sick and need other people to look after them. It seemed like a smart career choice.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned on the program so far?
We did a surgical scrub a few weeks ago; we had to scrub up as if we were going to assist in an operation. For a real surgery you’d have to scrub up for ten minutes. We only did it for three minutes, and it was intense. The teacher had us put a lotion on our hands and go into a closet with a black light.
Even though we scrubbed for three minutes, you could see how many micro-organism and/or germs were still on our skin, glowing under the black light because of the lotion. It was gross; I was actually kind of disappointed in how filthy my hands still were! That really showed me how important even the smallest details are, and also how important having a clean and sterile environment is when caring for a patient.
What’s the most interesting thing you learned about yourself at Carrington?
I’ve learned that when I set my mind to something I can definitely do it, and I’ve learned that I can be proud of myself too – and that’s huge for me.
What’s the biggest thing you wanted to achieve through the program?
Being the first woman on my side of the family to graduate college was something I really wanted to achieve. Before I started I came to the realization that I needed to do that; firstly for me to feel good about myself, and secondly, to be able to better provide for my family.
Tell me something you wish you’d known when you started.
Knowing that the program is accelerated is one thing, but living and working in a very accelerated environment is another. Honestly it can be overwhelming at times, certainly at the start. I wish I’d braced myself more for that experience. I just didn’t appreciate how intense it would be. I’m definitely used to it now, but going into it in June, it was kind of overwhelming for the first few weeks. But stick with it, the workload gets easier to manage as you get used to it.
Are you working?
I started the Federal Work Study program at Carrington in late November. It’s really helped out. It’s been a challenge because I’m away from the house more, but it’s working out well. It’s extra income and a chance for me to get out of the house. The campus is about five minutes from my house, so it could be worse. It’s really cool to get to know everyone on the other side of the campus.
What’s next for you in April?
Right now we’re planning a big move; I’m moving from Idaho to Utah right after I graduate so my plan is to start working, and get some good experience as a medical assistant for the next few years.
Then when my son starts first grade, I’ll continue my education in Utah. At the moment I’m thinking that I’ll do a Practical Nursing program first, and then later complete a Nursing Bridge program to become an RN.
That sounds like a good plan. And at age 27, time is on your side.
Absolutely. But I think you’re never too old to go to school. We should all be aiming to educate ourselves our whole lives. There are so many resources out there – colleges, community colleges, online courses. I plan on being a ‘student’ my whole life.
Tell me about your family.
My support network is thankfully huge; I’ve had so much support from both sides of our family. My husband, Andrew, is a paralegal in a debt counseling company. He just moved to Utah with a new job; we’ll meet up with him down there in April when I finish. It’s about a five hour drive, so we’ll do weekends between now and then. He’s actually living with my parents down there. His family is up here in Boise, and they’ve been great. I have more support than I deserve; it’s really awesome.
What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to new students?
Take advantage of all the resources available to you; extra tutoring, the Student Success Center, the Aspire program, your instructors. Everyone there has one goal in mind – to help you succeed. Don’t ever be intimidated, or be afraid to ask questions, or ask for help. Everyone is there to help you, you just have to reach out if you need it. And I would say cherish the experience, it goes by so fast. You can do anything you set your mind to.
How would you sum up the difference the last seven months at Carrington have made to your life?
I have become more confident, more self aware and much more positive about my future.
You get an unexpected few hours to yourself, what would you do?
Cry with happiness! I would probably go for a long bike ride, do some yoga, and get caught up on laundry…then nap if I could!