Interview with Medical Assistant Saire DeLis

medical assistant interview

Advice for Those Thinking of Becoming a Medical Assistant

Raised in New Orleans, Saire DeLis is now a working medical assistant in Missouri. While in school for her Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Certificate, Saire maintained a 4.0 grade point average, while completing an externship at the Community Health Center.

After receiving her certificate from a local career college and passing the certificate exam, Saire was offered a position as a medical assistant at a pharmaceutical company, working alongside Registered Nurses and Doctors. She is now enrolled at her community college to further her education and fulfill long-term goals.

How did you become interested in health care? Did it have to do with job security or a genuine interest in the medical field?

I became interested in the health care field by word of mouth. Friends were telling me that hospitals and clinics were in need of help and that the field was paying very well. It also offered more stable job security than an average job. Also, I did have a genuine interest in the health care field. In high school, I had been debating on whether I wanted to do health care or archeology. The health care field paid off first.

What influenced you to enter into a career college as opposed to a junior college or university? Did it have more to do with location, cost, faculty, reputation or other factors?

The only reason I decided to attend a career college was because of the location of the school. Now I see that I should have gone to a community college because the career college doesn’t have transferable credits and now I am also $20,000 in debt for a certification that only lasts one year.

I would recommend for people to really look into the schools they want to attend. Admissions told me that I would have to ask the other schools if my credits would transfer. They said nothing about them not transferring anywhere at all. I feel like I was scammed.

You mentioned that you maintained a 4.0 GPA while in school, how did you manage to do this? What are some smart study habits you picked up during that time?

There are going to be people who don’t take school seriously. Remember why you are there and persevere over others. I knew I would have to take a certification exam at the end of my schooling so I spent my entire term studying (not everyday but frequently). I researched what the best study materials would be and checked them out at my library, or asked one of my teachers if I could use their copies… My teachers were all professional Medical Assistants so, obviously, they had preparation books.

What advice do you have for high school students interested in getting involved in the health care field and more specifically medical assisting? Are there any particular classes they should take in high school to prepare them for this kind of career?

Anatomy and Physiology are major classes in any health care centered class so those would be very good classes to take while still in high school. You’re going to have to take them again in college so at least some previous knowledge will benefit you.

Again, if you’re in high school, research your options for schools. I found that a site called Rant Board really helps determining if a school is a good one or not. It’s based off of the experiences of others who have been in the shoes you’re going into.

Are there any sorts of after school jobs or programs high school students should get involved in to prepare themselves for a career in medical assisting or health care in general?

Yes! Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. Contact a clinic or hospitals HR department and ask them about volunteer opportunities. They never turn down a volunteer. Be sure to get your proper shots beforehand though… Hep B, TB.. etc.

The place you want to volunteer at will help you with whatever shots and vaccines you need to get. You not only get personal enrichment out of volunteering but you are also helping others and it looks good on your resume!

What advice do you have to prospective students about choosing the right school? What are the top factors they should keep in mind when deciding on a school? (Whether it is a career college, junior college, university or college).

Ask yourself these questions when trying to decide on the right school:

  • Do the credits transfer to any other schools?
  • How expensive is the school?
  • Do I really want to spend the rest of my life paying back loans for this school?
  • What is the total package that I am going to get out of this school?
  • What sort of impression does the majority of the student body present?
  • What are my other options?

I’m assuming there is a ton of information to absorb when learning about medical assisting. How did you manage to learn all of that information in a short period of time?

I managed to absorb a lot of the information in the year that my medical assisting program was. I think the hardest part of the entire thing was trying to learn Medical Billing and Coding. All of the other classes were sort of repetitive; Medical Law and Ethics, Anatomy, Medical Terminology and that is only because the school really wants to make sure you really learn those.

What was most challenging about school and how did you cope?

Unfortunately, the school that I attended had really unprofessional staff members. The faculty was amazing and helped as much as they could but when it came to talking to the Financial Aid, Career Services, or the Admissions department, I was really disappointed. Without those people a lot of things involving your education cannot get done. Even though it was frustrating, I had to keep a clear head and remember why I was attending the school to begin with.

You mentioned that you completed an externship at a Community Health Center while in school. How important was the externship to your education and what did you take away from it?

The externship reiterated everything that I learned in class and in Lab and took those lessons to a real world-real life environment. The patients that I saw were real patients, not just test subjects, and I knew if I messed up I could seriously hurt someone.

During the externship I got to work alongside doctors, RNs and LPNs so I got to see a lot of what their jobs were like. Medical Assistants, contrary to popular belief, exclusively assist the doctors, not the nurses. The nurses are just there mainly to help the doctors with more advanced care that MAs are not certified to help with ie) IVs. But I warn you, if you have a medical question pertaining to something you forgot, ask the nurses because a doctor will get very angry at you for not having that knowledge already at hand. Remember, their schooling takes a decade to complete.

How do you balance the administrative duties with the clinical ones in medical assisting? Do you find that you do more of one than the other? What do your daily tasks include?

In Medical Assisting you definitely do more clinical work but there is also a lot of “paper work” as well. Think of yourself as the doctor’s personal assistant. You not only have to room his patients and check them in, but you also have to schedule their appointments, send the prescriptions to the pharmacy, and return their (never ending) calls. As a medical assistant, there is very little room to just fool around. You’re going to be constantly moving. Many times you will be working past the time you’re supposed to get off work.

You came out of school and began working for a pharmaceutical company. What made you choose this location rather than a clinic or hospital? What differences, if any, do you see working for a pharmaceutical company rather than other settings?

The pharmaceutical company that I work for really isn’t any different than any clinic. I still see patients and work with doctors but I work with them toward a different goal, and that is to release a good drug on the market that will benefit the general public.

The school I attended made it seem like I would be hired by my externship site, but that was not the case because they had just hired a bunch of LPNs before I started there… so they weren’t hiring. After my externship ended I worked at a bookstore for two months until I got my job as a Quality Control Specialist at the pharmaceutical company.

The good thing about that is that I am making way money more than I ever could have working for a traditional clinic or hospital! While you’re in school as a medical assistant, look for jobs in the health care field. If you get interviewed and do not get the job, at least you have knowledge of what a medical interview is like.

What kinds of advancements are available for medical assistants? How are these advancements achieved?

Unfortunately there is very little advancement at this time for medical assistants. Unless you want to be the Lead Medical Assistant, I would suggest picking a different field like practical nursing. In practical nursing you can advance to a Registered Nurse (RN) with the proper education and from there you can be a Nurse Practitioner. Remember though that their education takes longer and it is a lot more strict and tedious.

What made you decide to go back to school? Why did you decide to attend your local community college and what are you studying now? Where do you hope your education will take you?

I am attending another school because I want to advance my education for personal enrichment. I am studying anthropology/archeology now just like I was debating on in high school. Not only did I get to work in the medical field but I am also going to be doing something for personal enrichment as well.

I love history and ancient civilizations so I think this worked out perfectly for me. From this community college I can transfer into any university that I want to go to. Learning from my bad experiences at the career college has only made me a stronger person with more motivation, and I believe that I can one day achieve a Ph.D.



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