Faculty Q&A with Clinical Medical Assisting Instructor Aubri Kouklis
Aubri Kouklis is a Clinical Medical Assisting Instructor at SJVC’s Atascadero campus. After an early career as an EMT and working as a medical assistant, Aubri has found a new passion in teaching and training the next generation of medical assistants. Here, she tells us about a fun connection she had to SJVC before she started teaching here, how she was recruited, the tight-knit community of SJVC, and the transformation of her students.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised on the Central Coast, I’m a mom to three boys, and I like to travel. In my spare time, I love to kickbox, which I’ve been doing since 2007. I also train and coach both kids and adults in kickboxing.
I started my career in the medical assisting field after graduating from the medical assisting program at Santa Barbara Business College (SBBC) in 1998. SBBC was acquired by SJVCi a couple of years ago, and now I’m teaching here, so it’s kind of come full circle. I like to tell my students this because I pretty much did the same program as them and can relate to how they’re feeling.
Have you always been interested in the medical field?
Yes, I’ve always been interested in the medical field. I started out as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician), which was the first medical-related course that I took when I was 18. That’s how I progressed to become a medical assistant.
What were you doing before you started teaching at SJVC?
I worked half my career in pediatrics, and half in primary care for adults.
To be honest, teaching never really crossed my mind until about three years ago when I was working for a primary care practice in San Luis Obispo, and I was contacted by SJVC about becoming an instructor. When I followed up with it, I just thought it was super interesting. It changed my whole perspective, and I can’t imagine doing anything else now.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I like to see the transformation of the students, from when they come in on the first day to when they leave for externs. It’s night and day, usually. It’s really cool to be able to watch that transition happen. Obviously, it varies from student to student, and whatever they have going on in their background and whatnot. But I would say that’s the thing that I like to see the most, the growth that happens from day one to the end of their program.
Also, the Central Coast is a small area and I’ve been living here a long time. Throughout my medical career, I’ve made a lot of contacts. I have a lot of personal friends that are local physicians in the area, so it’s nice to be able to send students out into the world with people that I know very closely and have worked with for so many years.
Was there ever a moment that reinforced that you made the right decision to work in the medical field or to teach?
Yes many times. For instance, recently I was at my son’s pediatrician office, where I once worked, and one of the doctors that I used to work for saw me. This office has employed several of my students and he complimented me on what a great job I was doing, and what a great job the students were doing. I hear this quite often, which warms my heart. It makes me so proud of them.
What do you like about SJVC?
We all work closely together. Our campus is so small that we’re just a tiny little family here. We all work really well together, and I couldn’t ask for a better place to work.
Any advice for someone interested in going to school for medical assisting?
Healthcare is very rewarding. It’s nice to be able to go in to work every day and help people. And you’d be surprised – the smallest little things can make a big difference in someone’s life.
As far as the program goes, my advice is to be in class as much as possible. I see a direct correlation between grades and attendance. Plus, the more hands-on experience you have, and the more time that you’re here and developing your skills in the lab, the better it can lead to the best outcome.
What’s next for you?
I was recently nominated and picked for the Academic Council, so I’m excited for that new chapter in my life.
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.