After working as a CNA in high school, Victoria Graham knew that healthcare was exactly where she wanted to be. She enjoyed her time serving on the Red Cross disaster relief team and later working as the office manager at her husband’s dental practice, but she itched to work directly with patients again. With the current COVID circumstances and shortage of healthcare workers, Victoria wanted to begin working with patients quickly. She decided to earn her CMA certification and plans to use her experience to become an RN in the future! Currently, Victoria is working as a CMA at CHI Memorial.
Marah: Why did you choose UTC’s Clinical Medical Assistant course over other similar courses?
Victoria: I began my search online and found that there are several CMA courses available in Chattanooga and North Georgia. However, when I reached out to Will Watson (UTC CPE’s program coordinator) for the course outline, I saw there was a LARGE amount of hands-on experience involved in the course. I knew that experience would make me a well-rounded professional. Will was also a great communicator; before I enrolled in the class, he answered all the questions I had promptly. I could only imagine how great the instructor would be if the course administrator was extremely dedicated to helping potential students. I also loved that the program is accelerated because two years of course time is unnecessary for CMA certification. I was excited about the program from the beginning.
M: Did you enjoy your interactions with the instructor?
V: Suzette, the instructor, is AMAZING!! I think about her often while I am at work. She was very thorough but also never drug out parts of the course for an unnecessarily long amount of time. She would always take time to explain what we didn’t understand, even if it meant taking extra time outside of class. She was also available via text, phone, and email anytime we needed her. When I first started my job and was stressed, I would reach out to Suzette and she would say, “Girl, you’ve got this! You’re Wonder Woman!” Even though she’s no longer my instructor, she’s been a great encourager to me.
M: What do your day-to-day functions look like as a full-time CMA?
V: There is always so much going on, which I love! I am doing so much more as a CMA than I initially ever imagined. I give medications and injections to patients, perform EKGs, schedule MRIs and CAT scans, interpret and talk to patients about test results, call in prescription refills…the list goes on! At CHI, we handle 200 calls a day, per provider, for 11 providers. This means we have to take ownership of patients as though we are secondary providers. Since I am doing many different tasks, I love that I have peace of mind that I know what I am doing and am not going outside the scope of what’s allowed. Suzette made sure we would be prepared when we were released “into the wild!”
M: What did the job hunt look like for you? How did UTC CPE/Suzette play a role in the job hunt process?
V: There is such a demand for CMAs that I had several job offers before taking the final or certification exam. If it wasn’t for Suzette, though, I wouldn’t have known that it was okay to begin applying for jobs before finishing the course! Several weeks before the course ended, she encouraged us to apply to jobs and let prospective employers know our anticipated graduation dates and certification exam dates. Many employers will offer jobs pending passing the certification exam, and many of us would have waited to apply until we passed the exam if Suzette hadn’t told us otherwise.
M: How did you create a study/work/life balance while in the course?
V: I still worked full-time at my husband’s dental office and also had two kids doing virtual school while in the course. I didn’t find the balance to be difficult at all! You just have to find time to get your work done. For example, you can easily read the chapters in the morning before your kids wake up, while the kids are working on their schoolwork, or in the evenings when the kids are in bed. Honestly, if you have kids and made it through the 2020 school year, you’ll find this course to be incredibly doable compared to that (ha!)
M: What advice would you give to someone considering taking the CMA course?
V: Just do it! Being a CMA is very rewarding and never boring. CMA is a great stand-alone career but can also serve as a wonderful stepping stone to an LPN or RN degree (or even further). From my experience and what I have seen, someone considering CMA certification shouldn’t consider any other program–quote me directly on that!
M: Do you have anything else you would like to share about the CMA course?
V: It doesn’t matter whether you have a healthcare background or not. Suzette will cover the material with so much detail that you will succeed as a CMA. I recently encouraged a coworker to go take the course. I said, “I want to see your confirmation email where you registered!” The course is just phenomenal.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marah Whitaker (think Laura with an M) serves as the marketing assistant for the UTC Center for Professional Education. During the workday, she spends time writing blog posts, creating content for social media, developing email campaigns, and building relationships with CPE’s customer base. During her free time, you can find her getting lost in a good book, having spontaneous dance parties, playing piano, and going to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wing Night. Professionally and personally, she aspires to live by Mr. Feeny’s advice, “Dream. Believe. Try. Do Good.” She strives to use her passions to serve others and contribute positively to the world around her.
Connect with Marah on LinkedIn.