Grad Q&A with Clinical Medical Assisting graduate Lizbeth Morales
Most women would not think being pregnant is the best time to go back to school, but Lizbeth Morales felt otherwise. Her job in retail exposed her to the public at a time when Covid posed a constant threat. Her protective instinct for her child stepped in. Lizbeth saw an opportunity to use this time to elevate her career potential and enroll in SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program.
What was your thought process in deciding to go back to school?
I was pregnant and I really didn’t really feel comfortable where I was at work and didn’t even want to go out and be around other people (due to Covid). School is something I’d wanted to do for a few years. I’d applied at a couple of colleges, but I never went because I just wasn’t motivated enough.
And my mom (Guillermina) was really encouraging me to go back to school. I would talk to her a lot about what I wanted, and she told me she would help. My husband, Osvaldo, was working full-time and supported me, too.
What attracted you to the medical field?
Helping people was something that attracted me since I was little. My grandma was in the hospital a lot and I would help my mom take care of her at home. I was drawn to work in a hospital, and I just liked everything about it. I never wanted to be anything else.
Why did you choose SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program on the Ontario campus?
A friend told me about it, and I had gone to check it out the first time before I was pregnant. It was a (in as few as) 9-month certificate program and I liked everything about it. They explained everything so well, but I wasn’t always a school person, so I kept pushing it off.
When I finally went back, classes were mostly online – which was good because I was pregnant, and I was scared to go out because of Covid.
Were you a good fit for a career in the medical field?
Blood doesn’t bother me. I’ve experienced situations where I’ve helped somebody in an accident. My mom saw I was so calm and from then on, she’s told me to go in that direction. It (medical career) was never in my mind until I knew I wanted to do something more with my life.
What gave you the final push to go to college?
I worked in a warehouse and hated it. This was not what I want to do for the rest of my life. And hearing my mom’s voice: ‘You were born here, and you can be whatever you want. I don’t want you to go through what I went through.’ My mom was born in Mexico and didn’t finish her education. My parents are my role models and they’re the reason why I’m here today.
How did you adjust to being a student?
I am a shy person, so I was nervous going to school. But the first day I actually made a friend, and we would help each other out. The teachers were nice and motivated you. There were a lot of students, but they focused on each one and wanted everyone to do their best.
What kind of support did you get at home?
I took maternity leave to have my daughter (Natalia) and when I started classes again my mom took care of her while I was studying or doing homework. My husband supported me at home, and he would also help me feed her. But as a mother it was hard because you want to be there with her, doing those things. And when I would want to just give up because I was so tired, he would remind me, ‘It will be worth it in the end’.
My family helped me out so much. I would show my mom my grades so she would see what her help meant. I was on the Dean’s List and was getting As in all my classes.
What inspired you to keep pushing?
I feel like I’m going to give my daughter a better future. And I want to motivate her like my mom motivated me. I was a very bad student (when younger) and put my parents through a lot. I’m thankful I’m on a different path now and they’re the reason why I’m here today.
What was the best thing about the program?
I’m not a school person, but I really enjoyed my time there. Even now the staff and teachers still send messages asking how I’m doing, is everything ok. That’s a really good school and I would recommend it to everybody. They even have business programs and I want my sister to check it out. I would help her!
What was your greatest fear as you got close to completing your program?
I was really scared for my test – the big test (NCT National Competency Test) you have to take before graduation. We have a class just to prepare you for that test. It is almost 3 hours long, but they let you know immediately if you passed or need to retake it. I passed!
Where are you now in your Medical Assisting career?
My extern site hired me three days after I completed my program! It’s a fast-paced environment with Urgent Care on one side and Family Practice on the other. I work in the back office with patients and with medical providers too. Every provider has their own way they like things to be done.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
We do a lot of EKGs, a lot of physicals for older patients and injections for chronic pain. Patients come in with back pain or they get injured. We set up for surgical procedures and stitches. I learn something new every day and that’s what I like most about my job.
Any future career or education aspirations?
I want to enjoy where I am right now, get more experience and then further my education. I always wanted to go for RN (Registered Nursing) and maybe work in a hospital that has more emergencies – that’s what I really like about my job.
Right now, I want to have experiences with my daughter, see her grow. When she gets a little older there will be time to go back to school.
Any advice for those who struggle with the difficulties of going back to school in order to have a career?
That was me – I always found an excuse not to go back to school. I would tell them, ‘Just do it!’ I didn’t think I would finish school. I didn’t always have the motivation. But they can. Anyone can.
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.