Faculty Q&A with Medical Assisting Instructor Ashtin Putrow
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I graduated from Rio Rancho high school and didn’t originally have a strong drive to go into healthcare. However, I did grow up seeing that my stepdad, who was a nurse, had stability and a long career that he really loved. I did a lot of retail jobs and even worked my way up to being an assistant manager at The Gap. It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and living in a domestic violence shelter due to an abusive relationship that I learned from my case manager that I had the opportunity to go to school. They had a program so they could help me with school and help me with rent. I chose Pima’s medical assisting program and what is really cool is Bonnie Nolan, the program director I have now at Carrington, was my medical assisting instructor when I was in school. Talk about everything coming full circle!
How did your career progress into teaching?
Since graduating in 2011, I’ve worked at Presbyterian, UNMH, and in family medicine, acupuncture, and gynecology practices. Medical assisting is really rewarding, but I was just perusing Indeed ads one day when I saw an ad for a medical assistant instructor at another local college. I applied, they hired me, and I became their morning, afternoon, and night instructor. I was sleeping in the simulation clinical lab room between my afternoon and night shift! But I just felt like “wow, I love teaching.” The schedule at that school was too much for me to maintain long-term though, so I applied at Carrington and went through the hiring process. I started at Carrington in February of 2020, just as the pandemic started so we had to go online. It was challenging for everyone to make that transition but we found ways to adjust. I’ve always felt so honored to see students from all different walks of life learning. You could say I fell in love with teaching. To this day, I see reflections of myself in my students.
I tell my students that the expectation in my classroom is for them to be their best. If you weren’t today then be tomorrow. The goal is for them to be certified before they go out to their externship. I want to see them achieve that 4.0, have perfect attendance, make Dean’s List, make President’s List, and be the cream of the crop when they get out there applying for jobs. MA’s are now being offered sign-on bonuses. That wasn’t offered when I started!
What is your favorite subject to teach?
The cardiovascular system, which is coming up next in our curriculum. That is the one that the last college threw me into and I clawed my way through! I went home after being assigned to teach it and read through chapter after chapter on the best ways to teach it. The heart is really intricate and students have a lot of questions about things like oxygenated vs deoxygenated blood and where it is moving to. Then we also have the EKG lab, which takes a recording of the heart’s electrical activity.
What do you like most about the MA program at Carrington?
There are two pieces to what I really like. I like the curriculum itself. I think it has great variety with the way the modules are set up for the students. We also stay really current on new trends. All of us instructors have to stay really up-to-date on new techniques and I love that for us. That wasn’t required at my last employer even though I always did my best to try to keep up with what was current. I can say with absolute certainty that the MAs who graduate from Carrington have the most current knowledge and not antiquated knowledge.
The other piece that I like a lot will probably sound a bit cliché, but our students aren’t a number. All of the Carrington faculty want their students to succeed. We learn their names and sometimes even their kid’s names. Our instructors and staff will work together to help support students who are facing challenges. It’s just a really nice, open door, tight-knit community and I love that for our students.
Do you have any insight for people interested in going into Medical Assisting?
If you have a desire to help others and make a positive impact on your community by standing alongside a physician, then medical assisting is a great path to follow. MAs are the first person you hear on the phone. We are the ones scheduling your appointment. We are the ones in the room with you assisting your provider. We are the ones who some patients feel more comfortable talking with first. I always tell my students, please recognize that when you throw on those scrubs, you are viewed as a healthcare professional that is valued within your community.
Care to share any advice with students who are already enrolled?
Keep pushing! It’s going to be difficult and hard. You are essentially learning a new language that you may have some or no knowledge of, but at the end of the day it’s all new knowledge. Keep the eagerness to learn and have an open mind. Don’t be too difficult on yourself. Keep focused on your goals and the mindset that this is an investment in yourself. This is your time and your investment in your future and you’re going to get there. That is what I tell them every day. Also, don’t let the world outside of here drag you down, because, at the end of the day, they (the detractors) won’t be walking with you at graduation. You are walking at graduation. You are getting hired. You are becoming certified. You are hitting your goals. Nobody else is doing those things for you.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I was once in their shoes. I am so fortunate and grateful that I had that one teacher–and that was Bonnie–who kept cheering me on to finish despite trauma happening in my life outside of school. I really leaned on her to keep me going. I want to be that teacher for them.