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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Grad Q&A with Clinical Medical Assisting graduate Odalys Sanchez

May 2, 2023

Odalys Sanchez was a stay-at-home-mom who dreamed of a career in the medical field. She was drawn to women’s health issues and saw herself one day working in a medical facility’s Labor and Delivery department. She was young and inexperienced in work and education, but she was determined. She just needed to figure out the best way to merge her family responsibilities with the medical career she envisioned.


How did you start your quest for career in Medical Assisting?

My aunt Maria is a Surgical Technician in a hospital, and she told me about a scholarship that would pay half of my tuition if my application was accepted. When I was approved, I started looking at Clinical Medical Assisting programs. There were various schools, so I had a few options.


How did SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program win out?

SJVC’s website talked a lot about how they taught there (Bakersfield campus). It was a really good program, and I would totally recommend it to give people the college experience they want to get. They should go with their instincts.


Did it take you very long to feel like you fit in?

I’d been a stay-at-home mom, so to get out of the house and meet new people and teachers made me very nervous. But when we got to the hands-on part of the program, I got really comfortable with it.

I found a lot of friends. I was really appreciative of who helped me and who I got to help. We would study for a test together, video call and practice together. No one could stay back.

I made really good friends the first month, so I was more comfortable working with them during the hands-on part of the program doing injections and blood draws.


Were your instructors supportive?

My first teacher was really supportive. He would come in early or stay late if we needed it. We could call or text him. My second teacher was exactly the same. She would explain things really well and I could call or text her; she would understand.

One instructor was more of a project type while the other was more note-taking way of teaching. Either way, I learned a lot.

I was pretty nervous having to inject or draw blood on people. But our instructor would literally guide our hands with what to do until we got pretty comfortable with it.


What did you struggle with?

It was easier for me to do blood draws and injections than when other people did it to me. When they were trying to draw blood, it was always hard to find my veins. But I got ok with it pretty quickly.

I struggled with leaving my girls to go to class. But I wanted to be able to give them whatever they need and just to make them happy.


What kind of support did you have at home?

My partner, Len, worked full time at nights and my mom, Graciela, was here to take care of my two girls, since I was going to school at night.  Going back to school was very scary for me, but she told me to try my best. “Do this for your daughters,” she said.

There were times I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore; class, homework, exams. I thought about my daughters and being an example to them; show them how they could complete their dreams and do whatever they want in life.


What was your inspiration to keep pushing?

My mom has always wanted this for me. I tried my best to get As in all my classes because I knew it would make my mom proud. I made the Dean’s List three times. She has all three certificates put up at her house.

I always had Len’s help, and he worked full-time at night. But having two incomes is a lot better than having one. It will make everything better. He’s always pushed me to do better for myself.


Any big surprises in your program?

It wasn’t a surprise, but the extern (real-world experience with participating medical facilities/practitioners) part of the program made me nervous. You had real patients for the first time! But I got comfortable pretty quickly. Now I actually enjoy meeting new people every day, making them comfortable with whatever they’re going through. I get to know a little more about their lives and it makes me appreciate what I’m doing.


Who do you try to emulate to be successful?

I feel like I put it together on my own. I told myself, ‘If you get pregnant, you’re not going to be able to do anything in life.’ When I thought about school, I knew it would be harder because I had two kids. I put myself down for those negative thoughts, and I did the opposite. I tried to be the best for them instead of saying, ‘I can’t do this’.


Where did you go to work after you completed your Clinical Medical Assisting program?

I am the Lead Medical Assistant for a doctor’s office. In my interview I talked with him (doctor) about my passion for women’s health and the next day they called for me to start to work in a couple of days. I am now training under his RN (Registered Nurse) who is retiring. It’s very exciting and I’m very grateful for how he believes in me and is giving me the opportunity to learn more through his practice.


How do you spend a typical workday?

I room patients, take their vitals, listen to their hearts, and get them ready for any lab work before the doctor comes in. I assist the doctor in biopsies and annual exams, and he likes me to be next to him in case he needs anything for the patient visit.

I plan on staying here for a long while and getting as much knowledge as I need.


What do you see for your future?

I actually want to go back to school to be an RN. I want higher education and see what that gets me in life. If I did it once, I can do it twice.

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