Faculty Q&A with Medical Office Administration Instructor Nikki Paialii [VIDEO]
Meet SJVC Ontario Medical Office Administration instructor, Nikki Paialii, who’s been teaching with SJVC for over 5 years. We sat down with Ms. Paialii to learn more about her, her career in healthcare, and to get a sneak peek at what goes on inside the Medical Office Administration classroom.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been teaching for 15 years and have seven kids. I started off as a really young teacher–I don’t think I was even thirty yet. I’ve worked at four other schools in the San Bernardino County area and I’ve been at SJVC the longest. That’s why I feel like I have a good general idea of what the different schools in the area have to offer students.
How did you enter the healthcare field?
I had originally planned to join the Navy after high school and become a nurse, but then I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I needed to learn something faster than nursing, so I signed up for a medical assisting program.
After several years working and doing that at different practices, I fell into a pediatrics office in Orange County where the office manager got really sick and had to go on leave and different staff members filled in for her duties. That’s when I received a crash course in billing and took that over for the office. Eventually, I took on her full office manager job because she wasn’t able to return and the doctors put me through school for a Bachelors in Healthcare Administration.
After that, I took a job at an insurance company and continued doing the medical billing for the pediatrics office from home. The doctors told their friends about me and my billing business grew. It was a great business, but after a while I was ready to interact with more people and try teaching. Since then, I have taught both medical assisting and medical office administration.
Is there a moment that reinforced you made the right decision to teach?
I’ve trained people from other campuses. ‘Call Nikki and she will help you get set up on the program.’ That feels really good after 5 years! It also helps a lot that the school is very supportive of the students and me. If a student is struggling, the school makes it so I am able to make myself available to them. When I say that I am there for them, I know I can really mean it.
What do you like most about the Medical Office Administration program at SJVC?
I am most impressed working at SJVC with regard to the quality of education, the support the students get, and the amount of support the instructor gets. I see the difference in the types of students that we put out with regard to the experiences they have and what we invest in them. That really is not available at any of the other schools. I know this might sound cheesy, but all of this has made me more comfortable with what I am doing and love it even more.
This program is my baby. It focuses on developing students who have skills that are very marketable. They learn insurance, billing, coding, and administrative skills.
Do you have any insight for people interested in a career in medical office administration?
There are hundreds of types of insurance all across the different states, so attention to detail is the most important skill. This field is built for people who enjoy attention to detail and solving puzzles.
Our successes look a little different than others. Healthcare is a business and people forget that. The billers and coders are the heart and soul because nobody works for free. The more efficient we are in our jobs, the happier the doctors and nurses are. Nobody thinks about us but when people are waiting for their paycheck or waiting for their referral, we are the in-between they are waiting on. That means our jobs are very important.
Any advice for students who are already enrolled?
Life is going to happen while you are in school and that is the reason to keep going. Let school be the one thing that keeps going right.
Hear more from Ms. Paialii and the Medical Office Administration program at SJVC…
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.