Working as a Certified Nursing Assistant for several years, I recognized that I was good at it. Caring for elderly patients at the nursing homes where I worked, they would begin to think of me as family. I would get attached to these patients; I felt sad when they passed away.
I was still working as a CNA during COVID. Nursing homes were closed to visitors; patients often didn’t understand why their loved ones couldn’t visit them. The Physician Assistants I worked with inspired me; I set a long-term goal to one day become a PA myself. I took courses at a Community College—and then repeated those same courses at a higher level. I felt like I was getting nowhere and would never be done.
Contacting MTTI, I spoke with Amy in Admissions and then with Ms. Courtney, the Lead Medical Assistant Instructor. Ms. Courtney asked me questions to determine if the program was a good fit for me. I was comfortable with my choice to enroll; as a CNA, I already knew I could take blood pressures and pulses, and treat lacerations.
Learning online, you can think you understand something. But as a hands-on person, I have to see it and practice it myself. Fortunately, Medical Assistants are considered essential workers; we were allowed to come to school a couple of days a week. Our class was split into two smaller groups, so we could maintain social distancing.
I was excited to be learning how to give injections, perform EKGs, conduct pregnancy tests and capillary / blood tests. I liked phlebotomy right away. Comfortable about practicing blood draws on classmates, I was more nervous about having someone else draw blood from me. The first time I had to offer my arm to another student, I felt like I might pass out! Fortunately, she was pretty good at drawing blood.
Ms. Courtney was the glue that held us together. She gave us study guides and would go over anything we weren’t clear about until she was sure we understood it. Because I’m not that good at taking tests, I worried I wouldn’t pass the course. When I failed a test, Ms. Courtney would coach me after class. She helped me stop second guessing myself. I appreciate that she pushed me. Ms. Courtney is tough but passionate about the medical profession. She wants her students to achieve their goals.
The urgent care was hectic during the pandemic. Unlike medical practices that were conducting virtual visits, patients continued to come into the urgent care during COVID. At school I had become accustomed to seeing the same faces, and performing skills on the same people; at the urgent care, I worked with people in diverse populations—elderly, youth, children and even newborns.
When the providers conducted examinations or procedures that I couldn’t do as a Medical Assistant, they would invite me to watch. I was able to assist with removal of fish hooks! Friends and family member sometimes asked if I was ‘grossed out’ by some of the things I saw. I explained that, for years as a CNA, I had cleaned people; I am not grossed out by seeing blood or other bodily fluids.
I drew blood, gave injections, took vital signs, tested for Rapid Strep and COVID, assisted with pelvic exams, cleaned and dressed lacerations. Once, when performing an EKG, because I had learned at school what a normal read out looks like, I recognized a patient was experiencing AFib. Atrial fibrillation is an arrhythmia—an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. As a Medical Assistant, I made sure that the provider had this information to properly diagnose and treat the patient.
Physician One has a network of urgent care centers in the northeast. I applied on-line, had a phone call and then an on-site interview. I was offered a position as a Medical Assistant with their Mobile Response Team in Massachusetts. Mobile Response was a little different than what I had been doing; I decided to try it.
I work outdoors most of the day. We conduct COVID screening, COVID PCR and antibody testing in the field—in some locations, we test people while they are in their car. I’ll either be stationed where we register people or where we do the nasal swabs. To register them, we go from car to car, scanning in QR Codes for appointments. Then they drive forward to where we do the swabs. Most people are thankful for the service we provide; some are even joyful and express their gratitude. Seeing these people makes our day.
To work with the Mobile Response Team, we need to know medical terminology, how to comply with HIPAA & patient confidentiality, and with safety standards. We need to be comfortable using HRE and EMR records systems; have excellent communication and organizational skills; understand medical legal and ethical guidelines. Medical Assistants have to multi-task while maintaining compassionate patient care. At school, learning aseptic technique and proper PPE, practicing simulations of Electronic Medical Records, plus honing our communication and soft skills—together with repeatedly practicing clinical skills hands-on—made me feel ready to jump in.
The confidence I have in the skills I learned at MTTI helps me stay calm and mellow, even in busy medical settings. The Medical Assistant instructors are passionate about what they are teaching. They are also compassionate, and will give you extra help when you need it.
My dedication paid off. I love working as a Medical Assistant. I’m making a better living than when I worked as a CNA. Now I enjoy learning more every day on the job, and am able to communicate my knowledge to help educate patients. I’m planning to go back to school part-time while working. Training to be a Medical Assistant was the right choice for me; it’s a perfect stepping stone from Nursing Assistant toward my long-term goal of becoming a Physician Assistant.