Kassandra James, 2021 Medical Assistant Graduate
Registered Medical Assistant at Dermatology Professionals in East Greenwich, RI
I liked being a waitress, but I wanted to build a long-term career.
My dad works in the medical field, so it was natural for me to consider working in medicine. My parents are in their sixties and my dad is still working to support the family. My parents have taken care of me; in the future, I want to be able take care of them. I needed to think beyond just having a job, to being in a career that offers benefits and a retirement plan. I just didn’t know exactly what type of medical work I wanted to do.
The pandemic put into perspective the types of medical training and career paths I could pursue.
While at home during COVID-19, I watched online videos of Dr. Sandra Lee, MD—"Dr. Pimple Popper”. A board-certified dermatologist, skin cancer surgeon, and cosmetic surgeon, I saw that she makes a real difference in peoples’ lives. I thought to myself, ‘I would be great at that.’ When I choose to do something, I put my all into it. I was ready to commit to going to school, and to train for a medical career.
I read everybody’s success stories on MTTI's website.
I first heard about MTTI from a co-worker where I waitressed. She had a friend who had attended the school. After talking with her at work, I went home that night and found the MTTI site. I also read online reviews about the school, which confirmed for me that MTTI is a good school. I researched other schools too, but the stories on the website are what made me come here.
When I toured the school, everyone was welcoming.
This was big for me, because a lot of schools aren’t like that. I had a phone interview with the Medical Assistant Department Head, Ms. Courtney. I could relate to her. She was like the mature version of me—very family-oriented and super organized. Nervous the first day of school, it felt like I was going back to high school. But attending MTTI had much more meaning to me than high school; at 23 years old, I knew what I wanted to do.
I didn’t have a personal life while in school—but I had expected that.
Going to school full time while working weekends, I had no days off. Throughout the program, if I had a rough day, I would tell myself, ‘I’m sticking this out’. I knew that I could do it. You have to work hard for what you want—and I worked very hard. Getting good grades gave me a sense of accomplishment. Ms. Courtney was very encouraging—she wants her students to do well.
I feel fortunate that I chose to attend MTTI.
When I was researching schools, I wasn’t aware of how much Medical Assistants do for healthcare practices. During internship at an urgent care, I needed to use all of the skills I learned in school. It helped that during the program, I completed the 50 live venipuncture sticks and 25 capillary punctures; I got lots of practice and earned an additional phlebotomy certificate. At the urgent care, I drew blood, performed EKGs and did many diagnostic procedures, including rapid strep, pregnancy tests, and COVID swabs. I conducted eye exams and gave injections. I’ve been surprised to find that a lot of Medical Assistants who had attended other schools had not had hands-on practice in all of these skills.
After graduating, I had five job offers, including at the Urgent Care, where I had interned.
Although I had a good experience at the urgent care, I thought I should consider all of my opportunities. After completing the Medical Assistant program, I took a short, well-deserved break. Shawn, the Career Services Specialist, agreed that I shouldn’t have to settle. He continued to email different job openings to me. Because I am very loyal, I knew that when I accepted a Medical Assistant position, I would want to be there to support that practice for a long time.
I love working at Dermatology Professionals, where I accepted a position.
When I first contacted Dermatology Professionals, the person I spoke with on the phone was so nice; she told me all about the company. Walking into the practice for my interview, I felt comfortable right away. I knew I had found the right place. It’s also close to home, offers good benefits—and it feels like a family. They have regular get-togethers for staff. My first week there, they had a party for the Medical Assistants. This year they gave awards to Medical Assistants who have been working there a long time. Recently they held a fundraiser for one of their practitioners who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
As a Medical Assistant, I am the first practitioner the patient meets.
I update the patient’s medical history, document information about medications they are taking, ask about any allergies they have, and record why they are being seen that day. Then I perform either a spot check or full skin examination. Using an iPad, I photograph moles and suspicious growths that might indicate skin cancer. If the patient has had a recent surgical procedure, I will remove sutures. By finding out what is going on for the patient, I can narrow down what the provider needs to do.
Once the Provider is in the room, I act as a scribe.
I enter information into the computer, as the provider visually evaluates each growth she examines. I have to be very accurate in matching her comments about each mole or growth to the photos I’ve taken. The Provider then either rules out, or orders biopsies to be sent to the lab. A lot of skin cancers are easier to remove if detected early. The practice has doctors who are trained to perform Mohs surgical procedures that will remove cancerous or precancerous growths.
The providers I work with are teaching me about skin health every day.
They want you to understand dermatologic conditions and procedures. I appreciate that I am able to see everything and also assist in the examinations, removal of tissue for biopsies and with in-office surgical procedures. I’m learning so much about skin—and even hair—care. We cover not only medical skin conditions, like acne, psoriasis, eczema and rashes, but also the cosmetic side of skins care. I enjoy learning about Botox and skin rejuvenation techniques. I also help the providers educate patients about sunscreen and vitamins that help prevent cancer.
I wake up happy to go to work each day at Dermatology Professionals.
We see people of all ages—pediatric as well as adult patients. Patients are similar to those at the urgent care where I worked—just the type of cases are different, because we are a specialty practice. I’ve had a lot of experience talking with people while working as a waitress, which helps me communicate well with patients. Someday I hope to become a nurse practitioner (NP). Working alongside the practitioners at Dermatology Professionals, I am seeing exactly what I will be able to do as I continue to learn new skills and further my education.
MTTI has a good reputation in the community, which helped me get hired.
The medical practices I contacted when I was looking for an internship and a paid position all knew MTTI and liked the school. That made me feel confident I would do well once I was working as a Medical Assistant. Dermatology Professionals knows that MTTI’s students have been trained to be professional, as well as to have the skills needed for practice. They asked me to tell Shawn that they will be happy to shadow and intern more MTTI students.
I appreciate that Ms. Courtney pushed me to be the best Medical Assistant I could be.
She became like a big sister or even a mom. She stressed that our primary purpose as Medical Assistants is to be there for the patients and providers. Even now, while I am at work, I can hear her voice in my head, reminding me to ask patients and providers: “What can I do for you today?”
Graduating school and starting a medical career makes me feel proud of myself.
As a professional Medical Assistant, I feel that I’ve fully become an adult. I am making a good living, doing what I love to do—helping people. Because I feel confident in my abilities as a Medical Assistant, I am ready to take on whatever comes next.
So many people have asked me about MTTI.
Where I live in South County, RI, there aren’t any Medical Assistant programs in the immediate area. It’s an easy commute to MTTI. I’ve been excited to share photos from MTTI’s Facebook to my personal page, so that others can see what we do in school. I tell everyone about all of the amazing skills you learn in the Medical Assistant program. Having these skills definitely gave me an advantage in getting hired.
Everyone at MTTI cares about you and wants you to succeed.
The instructors, Career Services and all of the Staff at MTTI are amazing people. Enrolled in the Medical Assistant program at MTTI, I felt—and as a graduate continue to feel—part of their family. Everyone at MTTI will do more than just assist you in finding a job; they will help you find your ‘forever’ career.
Spotlight photo of Kassandra with her classmates in front of MTTI's main building in Seekonk, MA
Top left - Portrait of Kassandra taken while a student at MTTI
Right Middle - Kassandra taking another MTTI student's blood pressure in the Medical Assistant lab
Left bottom - Kassandra at her graduation with Ms. Courtney, her instructor on the left and Shawn Barnes, Career Services Specialist, on the right