Medical Assistant, HammondKatie
“I always loved working with kids, so my first major was education with an emphasis in childhood development. Then I ended up getting married so I didn’t finish. I got divorced, moved back, and decided I didn’t want to be a waitress anymore. I wanted to have a better life for my son and I.
The next day, I enrolled at Brightwood, but then I freaked out and unenrolled. Three years later, I came back. I decided if I don’t do it now I’m never going to do it.
In the beginning I was going for Dental Assisting, because I thought that was something I wanted to do, but I switched to Medical Assisting before the classes started. My aunt’s a nurse, so that’s what pushed me towards Medical Assisting.
“I didn’t want to be a waitress anymore. I wanted to have a better life for my son and I.”
At first I was so scared because I hated needles. I hated touching blood. And I said that’s not for me, but I went in there and I actually really liked it until we got to the phlebotomy part. I ended up leaving the classroom crying until my teacher, Ms. Miller — who I’ve since adopted as my grandmother — found me in the hallway and told me I could do it. After our talk, I went back in and poked. We don’t practice on dummies, we practice on real people which is why I was so scared. But it was a successful blood draw and ever since I’ve become obsessed. So now I’m like, ‘Cool, let me see your veins!’ I love it.
In total, the program was nine months with seven months in class and then two months in the field. I graduated in November and then the very next day I started working at a school as the school nurse. I interviewed back in August, but they needed someone full time and I couldn’t balance my schedule being at Brightwood three days a week. They told me they would wait for me — which they did from August until November.
As the school nurse, I see students ages three to thirteen so it’s never a dull moment! I usually see maybe 50 to 60 students a day. Most of them come down for cough drops or they didn’t eat so we have granola bars, dry cereal, crackers. I check their temperatures; I also do lice checks, vision tests, hearing/testing. In the summer, we are starting immunizations with the help of the county nurse. We’re a Title I school — so it’s very low income families, so we’re going to start doing immunizations for students who also can’t afford them.
“For me, knowing that I was his role model is what kept me going.”
My four-year-old son calls me a doctor and asked for a doctor kit for his birthday. When I was doing my homework, he would sit down with his little laptop — you know, the LeapFrog ones — and he would do his homework. Even now when he has homework he tells me, ‘Okay, I’m going to do my homework just like you.’ For me, knowing that I was his role model is what kept me going. There were so many times I wanted to quit but I would see how he looked at me. As a single parent, I’m all he has, and I didn’t want him to see me quit and think that it’s okay. He was my main support and my main motivation.
Besides my son, I am also supported by my mom and sister. Like me, they both work in schools. My mom works in public and my sister in private. I pretty much grew up with being in a school all the time. It’s why I initially wanted to major in education. Being in a school is nice because we can still compare stories. My sister has been teaching for 10 years now, so she definitely knows the ins and outs of private schools, which has been helpful.
My boyfriend was also a huge supporter of mine. There were times I wanted to quit and he definitely wouldn’t let me. When I would study for tests at five o’clock in the morning, he would be up with me. He was a trooper. And then my teacher Ms. Miller was also my number three in terms of support. She always pushed me to do my best, especially with my essays. If I had a 98% she told me, ‘I know you can get 100, redo it.’ Even though I was so tired, I was happy she did that.
Ultimately, I want to work in labor and delivery so the first step in my 10-year goal is to become an LPN and then go back to school for two years to get my nursing degree. When my son is approaching middle school, I would want to go back again and become a nurse practitioner.
For those unsure about going back to school, I would say: You never know until you try, don’t give up. You don’t want to live with that regret because the ‘what if’ is worse than actually trying it and not liking it.”