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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Clinical Medical Assisting Graduate Tami Fuller Builds Courage to Face the Next Challenge One Step at a Time

February 27, 2024

In her early years, Tami Fuller always wanted to grow up to be in the medical field. She dreamed big. First, she wanted to be a brain surgeon. Then she switched to a pediatric doctor; then a pediatric nurse. Though the reality of what it took to reach her dream began to set in, she was not deterred. It just became more real; she thought how does she begin from where she is now?

First, she thought about studying to be a registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse.  But she felt she wasn’t quite ready; she needed to come up with the courage to match her dream. She kept researching other vocational programs and found SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program. What was the difference? A medical assistant checks in patients, runs reports for labs, etc. – but does not have to give IV’s. That felt right. It was a good foot in the door. One step. She knew herself well enough that once she got comfortable, she would open up and begin to think about what to do next.

Tami Fuller has confidence; but not the extraverted kind so common in our culture … she is comfortable with herself. She makes sure she is ready to meet the next challenge. And then she does.

Tami graduated on June 16, 2023 and immediately was offered a job at Antelope Valley Pediatrics in Lancaster, CA.  This is her story.


Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in the Palmdale/Lancaster.  I’m 29 years old and the second oldest of five children. I was living with my sister and my nephews while I was in school.


What were you doing before enrolling in the Clinical Medical Assisting program?

I was working at Panda Express. Eventually, I began to think about what I wanted for myself, what kind of career. I still worked there while I went to school from 5:30 – 10:30 at night. I worked there seven years total.


Tell me about the faculty in the Clinical Medical Assisting program. Who inspired you the most?

I have a few people. My first teacher was Mrs. Earshel White. She taught me for a few of the mods, then she switched. It was a night class, and she would come in with so much energy! Greeting us, saying goodnight; very encouraging, she would push to challenge you. She would say I know you’re nervous but get your foot in there. She would make it easier for you.

Then Mrs. Liz [Elizabeth Cendejas – came in and took over for Mrs. White. She was different in all the best ways. She is a phlebotomist and that made me love her even more.


What’s that?

A specialist in drawing blood. She has a lot of drive and was encouraging. Her methods drew me in. Around the time new students came in to see our school, they were selecting people who stand out to lead tours and show them around, like where we do clinicals and tell them things we learned about sutures, injections, vitals, and U/A. I volunteered and Mrs. Liz chose me to be one of those student ambassadors.

Another person was Leah Campbell, my career services advisor. The first time we met we automatically connected; she saw my potential and flair when I didn’t see it. If it weren’t for the faith and the drive she gave me, I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have. She is also the one who helped me get my job at Antelope Valley Pediatrics and Family Medicine. So, thank you Leah!


What do think was the reason you were hired?

Well, I was always quick on my feet, wanting to learn something new. When I was externing and I saw an MA on the move, I would ask them questions and see if I could help. Liz Jensen, who is the site manager, noticed that.

Doing the externship really opened my eyes. I was doing injections, EKG’s…There’s a real change from practicing at school to actually doing the work with different people, new people. It was nerve wracking but if you remember what you did in school you realize you’re fine.


What do you like about Clinical Medical Assisting so far?

I love the patients! I’m a huge people person. They make my day. If they need to talk to someone, which happens a lot here, I like to comfort them. Sometimes it all comes out, so there’s a lot of communication back and forth. There is always something to do and new things to learn, which I love.

What’s the most important thing you learned about yourself while studying to graduate from the Clinical Medical Assisting program?

Don’t give up. Have confidence in yourself. Don’t listen to just anyone. Sometimes it may seem like others are challenging you, which is great, but others may have an agenda. Just keep talking to those who encourage you. And stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish. Life is hard. You’ve got to stick through it.


Good advice! Do you have any goals or plans beyond what you are doing now?

Yes. I want to expand my work in the medical field and go further. I want to work with kids and look into pediatrics at the Women and Infants Pavillion Hospital in Lancaster. It’s also possible I will look into becoming a surgical technician.

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