“I did my medicine in Pakistan, came to Iowa in 2002 where I worked at a company that was involved in human vaccination. We built different vaccines but then the project ran off and they didn’t have any more money. That is how I got laid off and then finally came to Indiana. At the time, one of my friends was teaching at Brightwood and he introduced me to Ms. Miller. She was the program chair and the one who hired me. I’ve been working ever since as a Medical Assistant instructor.
In Pakistan, my specialty was anesthesia, so I worked as an anesthesiologist, which is quite different from being a teacher. But being a teacher gives me the same comfort of changing a life for good and forever. I don’t feel much of a difference than from working as a doctor. For me, I want to give back to society. I’m happy with what I’m doing because I know I am doing a good thing.
That’s why when I teach, the most important thing I stress is the character of the person. You can get a pill from any doctor or nurse, but what you cannot always find is the treatment and respect that you get. I want my students to be welcoming, kind, and good communicators. Being able to create a good rapport is the foundation to building a good medical case. It allows you to diagnose better, because the patient is more open with you. So for me, my teaching is geared towards building a personality that can carry medical information versus the other way around. For my students that can do this, I call them my rock stars.
“When I teach, the most important thing I stress is the character of the person.”
In addition to stressing good character, I also make sure my students understand the importance of ethics. What you need to care about is if you lose a life. That’s more important. They need to think about themselves being in the position of the patient. That’s how I teach my students.
Lastly, I tell my students that being a medical assistant is more about commitment than intelligence. As a doctor, I want to see someone who’s committed so that when I’m about to do a procedure, I can turn around and see my staff on the side with all the equipment ready. The same goes for being a good student. Punctuality, coming to class on time, attending the classes and being professional are very important to me.
“Always be proud but never be arrogant, that’s how I see it.”
For those who are unsure about this field, I would say that becoming a medical assistant is a good beginning career. It’s a step in the door. Obviously, I know many students who become medical assistants after they graduate, but I tell them that they can also build onto this career. I have a ton of former students who are nurses. I even have at least five or six that I know are going to go to medical school to become doctors. I also have a colleague who is my former student. I use her as an example a lot. She was my student, she worked, and came back and is now my colleague. I tell my students that they can be that person. There are so many options but you have to feel professional. Don’t just think this is just a job. If you don’t feel that profession in you, nobody can give it to you. So always be proud but never be arrogant, that’s how I see it. Be proud of yourself but don’t be arrogant.
The reason I am Dr. Rao is because of this school, the institution, my coworkers and students. Without their support, I would not be where I am today. They took me into their arms, I can really say that. They made me more accustomed to the culture and language. I would ask my students, ‘Did I say it right? Did it sound right?’ Without them, it would have been almost impossible. They help me a whole lot more than I can ever imagine.
Where do I see myself five years from now? I see myself continuing teaching. That’s how I feel comfortable, changing lives for people.”