Grad Q&A with Medical Assisting Graduate Celica Gamma
Tell us a little about yourself.
Well, I am a mother and I have three boys. My oldest is going to turn 14 this year. My second oldest is going to turn 12 and my youngest just turned 9. They are all mama’s boys. I graduated high school when I was pregnant with my first son. I was a single parent for quite a while and I met my husband… well, I can’t even say ‘met him’ because we went to the same elementary school and he was my crush when I was a sixth grader. We reconnected back in 2015. He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at birth and stopped walking three or four years ago.
For the past few years, I have been working full-time with Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) as an educational assistant, and I’ve been working part-time as a caregiver with Ambercare as well. Ambercare assists the elderly and adults, sometimes young kids, with disabilities—teaching them how to be independent, teaching them how to set goals for themselves, and pretty much assisting them with what they need.
Since 2018, I have completed three programs with Carrington College. Most recently, I did the Medical Assistant program. The one I did before that was my Associate of Science in Health Studies, and then prior to that was the Medical Administrative Assistant certificate.
I just put in my two weeks’ notice at APS. My career advisor Kimberly at Carrington sent my resume over to Bosque Women’s Care and I interviewed and got the job offer to be a medical assistant there yesterday. So, I took it! I’m really glad. Women’s health and pediatrics were the two specialties that I wanted to get in so I’m in women’s health right now with the job offer that they gave me. I’m really looking forward to learning a lot. I’m starting the 26th of April.
In my free time, I like to sell things on the side. I work a lot with epoxy. I do a lot of shadowboxes, tumblers, T-shirts, car decals, so it’s a little bit of everything.
What inspired you to go into healthcare?
I had a rough childhood—my dad passed away while we were in Mexico for summer vacation. I was thirteen at the time, my sister was 15. He suffered from blood clots and it wasn’t until later that we realized just by giving him aspirin we might have been able to save his life. I realized there was a lot I had to learn about medicine because we could have saved his life. I also try to learn because my mom, older brother, and my second oldest sister are diabetic. So, it is a genetic thing that happens to the family. Everything that I am doing is because of a personal experience, as well as with being a caregiver.
When did you decide to go in the direction of medical assisting?
I want to say after I did my medical administrative assistant certificate. I worked in a front office for about two months and didn’t find the front office interesting because I didn’t get to interact with patients. So, when I sat in on a couple of procedures, and spoke with some of the patients, I decided this is where I want to be—in the back of the office, assisting the providers and talking to the patients and getting to know them. That’s the reason I took the direction of going into the medical assistant program.
Did any other experiences or people influence your decision to go into medical assisting?
I was motivated because as a caregiver they only give us certain trainings. They don’t train us on medical terminology or different procedures. We don’t learn about medications or different diseases and syndromes. They just tell us ‘this is what they have. This is what you are going to do for them.’ And then we get CPR classes. I wanted to know more about the patients health-wise and how to treat them.
Then, the staff at Carrington College were really helpful. Amber is the academic advisor—the one who teaches you about all the programs, the classes, what the programs are about, how long the program is. I could ask her about any kind of program that I was thinking about and she would advise me.
Even though you didn’t continue being a Medical Administrative Assistant, did that program help you get your job with Albuquerque Public Schools?
Oh yes, yes. It still helped me. I went into the public schools with no experience as an educational assistant. If you have certain college credits it helps with your pay rate. They will teach you how to be an educational assistant, especially in the special education programs. Having that certificate helped me out financially and allowed me to get on my feet.
Once I did that I thought, ‘you know what? Let me go back.’ At the time I was just thinking of financial benefits, but it felt good when I was doing the associates of science degree because it gave me a broader education health-wise. Once I finished with that I thought, ‘Ok, maybe I should do the hands-on!’
Do you feel like you grew through the Medical Assisting program?
Oh, definitely. I grew a lot as a person. I grew a lot as an educational assistant. I grew a lot as a mother. As a student. My mentality is nowhere near where I was at when I first started school. I went in there not knowing what I was going to do or what my ultimate goal was. My goal is to go back to school and do the RN program with Carrington and then finish school to become a Nurse Practitioner. If someone asked me what I wanted to do in 2018, I would have been like, ‘uh… I don’t know.’ That’s all changed!
What was the hardest part about school?
I would have to say the hardest part was when we had to do clinicals. When we had to work on each other I was always nervous because I was scared that I was going to do something wrong, especially when it came to drawing blood. I didn’t want to hurt my fellow students.
Do you feel more confident now?
Oh yeah, I am a lot more confident now. Throughout my medical assisting externship (through the University of New Mexico), an RN named Sarah helped me out a lot. She was always there chaperoning, telling me what to do when it came to the bloodwork—how to keep the equipment together to make it flow properly with no issues. I think the one that stood out to me a lot was there was a patient that was covered in tattoos. Sarah showed me how to feel for the locations when you can’t see the veins and then she said if those places don’t work you can try the hand. So, I learned how to draw blood from the hand too.
How did the Medical Assisting program prepare you for your career?
It gave me the skills that I need, and it helped me be more open and more communicative. It helped me become more of an active listener than anything. It pretty much got me prepared for what I really needed.
What is the best part about being a medical assistant?
Interacting with the patients. That is the part that I really enjoyed during my externship. I got to interact with them, I got to know a little bit about them. And surprisingly, during my externship, I became familiar with their faces and their names. That was the best part of it.
Do you have any advice for students who are in school now?
Don’t second-guess yourself. I second-guessed myself but that’s the thing I am going to tell people a lot—don’t second-guess yourself! Keep pushing through. Reach out to the staff. The staff are very friendly. The staff are very helpful. Very resourceful. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.
My instructor Christina helped me when I was dealing with some stuff anxiety-wise and health-wise and missing a lot of school at one point. She told me, ‘you’re here already! Once you’re here and you’re almost done, don’t give up. Don’t quit. You made it halfway through and you can finish it!’
What would you like people to know about going to Carrington?
Carrington College prides themselves in their students. They follow you through your education. They check in on you, if you’re ok, if you need any help, if you have any questions, or if you have any concerns.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Carrington College changed my life and I’m really glad I got to be part of that school. I’m glad I did my research and stuck with that college.