2020 Medical Assistant Graduate
Medical Assistant at CareWell Urgent Care
It’s been a long road for me to become a Medical Assistant—and the person I am today.
I haven't always had the compassion needed to be a good medical professional. During my teenage years, I thought of myself three times over before ever thinking of others; it was ‘me-me-me’. I didn’t care enough to think about other people’s feelings.
Witnessing my mom’s difficult life inspired me to make a better life for myself.
I saw how she has been affected by her difficult circumstances. A single parent at 49 with 6 children, she is still raising a 16-year-old, while also helping my other 3 siblings. My mom is one of 13 kids herself; she and her siblings were split up when young, and raised in different households. My mom feels fortunate to have been raised by a woman who was a doctor. The times when my mom spoke with me about this woman, her face glowed with love and admiration.
My mom is an angel; even in hard times, she is humble and compassionate.
She likes helping others. If her circumstances had been different, I believe she would have become a caring medical practitioner, like the woman who raised her. Understanding that she couldn’t fulfill those dreams, I came to recognize that I could make her dream come true.
At only 20 years old, I became a single mom.
My newborn son opened my heart; I wanted to nourish and teach him. Growing up, I had thought about becoming a doctor. I was in awe to learn how much money doctors earned. As a young person then, becoming a doctor was more about achieving an ideal than a heart-felt desire to help others heal.
A few years after my first son’s birth, my second child was born.
Putting the dream of becoming a doctor on the shelf, I devoted myself to my growing family. Still, I read articles and watched videos on YouTube, and became more and more interested in medicine. I took courses in psychology at Hudson Community College. I attended a Medical Assistant course in New Jersey, where I was living, and volunteered for a short time in an Internal Medicine practice.
I couldn’t afford a babysitter to continue going to school.
I was living with my partner and two children in a one-bedroom apartment. I did the cooking, cleaning and child care while he went to work. When I became pregnant with our third child, we knew it was time to move. We looked and looked for a larger apartment in New Jersey. My sister, who lives in Massachusetts, invited me to come stay with her, so I could look for a place in New Bedford that we could move to.
I had faith in God’s plan and the hope that things would work out.
I took only our clothes and toys from the apartment in New Jersey, and left everything else behind. We moved into the same three-family house where my sister lives on the third floor. My partner, three children (9, 5 and 2 years old) and a 5-month old dog are enjoying a more spacious apartment. The rent is fair and the kids have a yard to play in. We would not have been able to achieve that standard of living had we stayed in New Jersey.
I began looking for an affordable Medical Assistant training program in Massachusetts.
The Medical Assistant course in New Jersey didn’t qualify me to take the Registered Medical Assistant exam. A shorter program, we didn’t get much practice in hands-on skills. I wanted to develop competent patient care skills and also be eligible to earn the RMA. Searching online for ‘Medical Assistant Schools’, I compared MTTI’s reviews with those of other schools in the area. I met with Amy, the Admissions Rep for MTTI’s Medical Assistant program and then interviewed with the evening Instructor, Ms. Steph.
It wasn’t easy balancing school with work and family—especially during COVID-19.
Working part-time and attending school three evenings a week, we haven’t had much ‘fun time’ for the family. I would get up at 6 am on Saturday to go to work, and get home at 10:30 pm. I’d be up again at 6 am on Sunday, and work until 3, getting home to my family by 4 pm. Monday through Friday, I’d be home cooking and cleaning. When the grade schools closed during the pandemic, I tried to help the kids at home, while they struggled to ‘attend’ school virtually.
When MTTI had to close during the lock-down, we continued learning remotely.
We covered the classroom lessons and watched demonstrations of skills online. When we returned to school—maintaining social distancing, sanitizing and wearing masks—we were able to practice all of the hands-on skills we would need to successfully work in healthcare. At MTTI, I’ve learned so much more about each aspect of Medical Assisting than I did at the program I attended in New Jersey.
During the pandemic, I interned and was hired at a busy urgent care.
Because COVID is surging, patients coming to the urgent care may have to sit in their cars for 4-5 or even 8 hours. They come out for pre-registration, then again for the full registration, and once more to be seen by a medical practitioner. It is challenging to work at the fast pace expected in urgent care. I needed to be in and out of the room in minutes. I always want to take a moment to make the patient feel cared for and comfortable. One day, a young, female patient was in the treatment room, crying. I offered her a tissue and tried to help her relax. I told her, “I’d give you a hug if I could."
I’ve grown up and into the person I want to be.
I think less about me and more about others. I treat everyone with respect. An OB GYN doctor who visited the urgent care as a patient told another doctor, who was also there as a patient, “Let Kiara do your intake. She is very gentle and knows what she is doing.” Hearing that validated that I am providing good care as a Medical Assistant—I’m on the right path.
Working at the urgent care, I’m thankful to Ms. Steph for having built my confidence.
She made me unafraid to ask less-than-comfortable questions to get the answers that help me do the best job I can. Ms. Steph is an amazing person—gentle, kind, straightforward and such a good teacher. Even though I’m a mom, raising 3 children at home, sometimes I wasn’t sure I could get through the program to graduate as a Medical Assistant and go to work. At times I would tell Ms. Steph that I couldn’t do a particular skill—drawing blood, for example. She would say, “Yes, you can—you can do it.” She would tell me she had more faith in me than I had in myself.
My classmate’s confidence in me helped, too.
When I told them that I had passed the qualifying exam to sit for the actual RMA exam, they weren’t surprised. They told me, “We knew you could pass it.”
MTTI’s Medical Assistant program was right for me.
The commute was easy—only 30 minutes from New Bedford. The program was affordable; I’ve seen schools where people are paying much more money. Financial Aid helped me with a plan that split the total loan amount into two, so I can pay one back before the second one. Paying back the loan at minimal interest, especially while I’m working, isn’t bad.
Before MTTI, I had become used to life being a bumpy road.
Part of me has always been waiting for failure—but in the Medical Assistant program, failure never came. The training went so smoothly it almost seemed too good to be true. I am so happy I called MTTI and came to school here!
In the future, I might complete the psychology credits I earned.
Maybe down the line I will become a Registered Nurse. Right now, I’m practicing how to pronounce the names of medications—all of the pharmaceuticals. I commented one day to a patient’s husband that I’m having difficulty with the names of meds, and that it stops me from thinking I could eventually become a nurse. He responded, “That shouldn’t stop you. I can see how much empathy you have. If you want to become a nurse, you can do it.” He saw that I have passion for what I do. He confirmed that I’m on the right track. I’m not just working as a Medical Assistant to earn money—I’m bringing to my patients my genuine love of caring for them.
We all have a time and place to shine.
In the midst of the pandemic, 2019-20 has been my time to shine! If my mom had been able to become a medical professional, she would have. I’m fulfilling her dream—a dream we share. And she is so proud of me. Maybe being a Medical Assistant is not, in some people’s eyes, as big as being a doctor. But I love working as a Medical Assistant. For me and my mom, being happy with what I do is everything.
Top & Bottom Left: Kiara With Her Children
Right: Kiara Receiving Her Medical Assistant Pin From Career Services Representative, Shawn
Right: Kiara Accepting Her Diploma From Medical Assistant Instructor, Stephanie