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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Grad Q&A with Clinical Medical Assisting Graduate Marissa Corpus 

March 28, 2023

Ten years ago Marissa Corpus was married with four children at home and working as a teacher’s aide when she decided to go back to school to become a medical assistant. But childcare would be expensive, and the loss of her income would hit the family budget hard.   

But she found the perfect solution to realize her medical career dream. SJVC offered an evening Clinical Medical Assisting certificate program on their Fresno campus. Could she balance being a full-time mom during the day and college student four nights a week? She would make that work.  

In fact, that plan worked so well that Marissa recently ran that play again and just completed her Associate of Science degree in Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting at the same campus. 


What made you initially choose SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program? 

I looked at other colleges and programs – all lottery, and I wanted something sooner. I interviewed other colleges but when I went in to get information at SJVC’s Fresno campus, I left enrolled! It was the right decision. 


How did that one-two punch of Certificate and A.S. degree education work for you? 

After I got my Clinical Medical Assisting certificate with night classes, I could not have kept growing in my education if those (A.S. degree) classes weren’t available. Some days I felt a little overwhelmed, but I got the support I needed from my family. And the main doctor I work for really pushes me to continue to grow with my career ambitions. 


What did you struggle with in your initial Clinical Medical Assisting certificate program? 

I was so scared of both getting and giving shots! But I honestly feel that if we didn’t have those hands-on experiences, I wouldn’t be the Medical Assistant I am today. First, we practiced on hot dogs…and then each other. I got it right away; then it was so easy for me.  

In my first job all I did was draw blood and run blood tests. Now I could give shots all day long.


Does the Clinical Medical Assisting certificate program provide a good lead-in to earning an associate degree? 

When I finished my certificate program I was one of the valedictorians and received the Founder Award, which was such a huge honor. They saw something in me that pushed me to go higher in my career. I felt like I needed to do something more. 

I knew I loved this, and this is what I should be doing. Being able to use these skills well gave me even more validation. 

Almost 8-years later I’ve finished the classes needed to earn my associate degree in Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting – a necessary move up in my career ambitions. 


Was going back to school a difficult journey? 

It wasn’t easy. But I get a ton of support at home and my husband steps in so that I can stay focused. Work took a lot out of me. But the education opportunity is there, and the expectations are reasonable. If you want to move up in your career, you have to make that a priority.  


What was the impact on your family? 

I didn’t want my kids to feel like they couldn’t do something in their lives. I got pregnant with my son when I was a senior in high school and I went back, got my diploma and continued working. Life will always throw something at you. But nobody but you can change your situation.  


What does your current workday look like? 

As part of a 14-physician family medicine specialty clinic, I am Lead Medical Assistant with Adventis Health’s Complex Care Team of 2-physicians, Nurse Practitioner and one Medical Assistant.  Our clinic treats patients with three or more chronic medical issues. We work on getting patients transitioned who are often wheelchair or bedbound and ventilated or have tracheotomies. They’re not coming in with colds – they have life-threatening conditions.  

I do patient authorizations – insurance authorizations/approvals for hospital beds, walkers, nebulizers, feeding tubes for formulas – everything patients will need medically. On Fridays I do direct patient care doing injections, blood draws, and conduct eye exams. I see 20-25 patients in a half-day. 


How do you evaluate incoming medical staff? 

I sometimes sit in on interviews and see a lot of applicants that had classes at other colleges where it’s all bookwork. Hands-on experience is missing, and we have to train them. Those with hands-on experience have an edge in getting a job offer. And if they have skills, experience, and are personable, they’re way ahead. 


What is your next step toward advancement? 

I’ve been at my current job almost five years and although I am currently in a lead position, I’d like to become a manager. For that I will need my Bachelor’s degree. 

SJVC has online Bachelor’s degree programs and I’m going to get mine in Health Care Management. There’s no way I could continue my education and career advancement without it being online. I can do it around my kids and work.  

School is already part of my routine, so if I just keep going it will be worth it in the end. 


Your advice for those who, like you, feel the struggle and sacrifice for higher education? 

It’s just a season. It’s not always going to be a struggle. You will feel so accomplished, and the end result will be worth it. It’s not easy, but if you want to learn more, move up, and reach that goal, you have to make it a priority. 

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