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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Grad Q&A with Medical Office Administration graduate Jose Lopez

June 27, 2023

Twenty-year-old Jose Lopez comes from a large family that for generations worked in California’s fertile fields of agriculture. It was a physically demanding but honorable way to provide the necessities of life. But Jose would take a different path – one that would leave an impression on his siblings, cousins, friends – and make his parents very proud.

The Medical Office Administration program on SJVC’s Delano campus would be his first step in a new career direction. Many eyes were watching.


What interests you about working in a medical environment?

My grandma, Josefa, in Mexico was the family ‘nurse’, the family go-to for anything medical. If someone got hurt or sick, she would be the first one to help in any way she could. She helped in a doctor’s office in a small town in Mexico and was the ‘middle person’ to help residents before they went to the tribal healer or eventually a doctor in a larger town.


How did enrolling in school affect your immediate family?

Most of the people I know in my life who worked in the fields, stayed in the fields. Field work is an acceptable job but, to me, people should shoot for something higher. A lot of them start young and minimum wage seemed like good money.

It makes me happy to think that what I’ve done could push someone into doing this too, to better themselves and their future. My brother, David, is in the same program as me and my sister, Rubi, wants to go to SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting program.


What was your first impression of the Medical Office Administration program?

I went in not knowing much and didn’t know what to expect. But the environment was very welcoming.

Mine is a female-dominated field and I was the only guy in the class. But by the end of the program more people had enrolled and a couple of them were male.


Did you get enough instructor support?

I knew the teachers were there to help me learn, and I was there to succeed.  I took advantage of that support as often as possible. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions because I knew they were there to help. I had the best instructors who were there for us 100%.

The downfall of many people is that they’re too proud to ask for help. The easiest way to get to success is to ask for help.


Was your family on board for you, too?

I wasn’t working because Dad wanted us to fully focus on school. There were six of us kids at home but while we were in school there were time limits on how much we (who were in college) could help them out.

My biggest inspiration was to make my parents proud. That’s what kept me going through tough times, whether in school or personal problems.


What was one of your favorite moments in class?

Learning CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and every aspect of mental and physical knowledge it involved. I could be the one to help someone at any moment with that skill and elongate that process until emergency services get there.

It gave me a sense of empowerment, knowing I can be the one to help someone at any moment with that skill. It also made me think about getting into more of a hands-on spot in the medical field. Getting my foot in the door gives me a little more insight into the medical field’s possibilities.


What was your greatest struggle?

I struggled with time management. I would come home from school and help my mom babysit the kids or take extended family to medical appointments; or when our grandparents visit from Mexico, I would help them with appointments and translate for them.

We’re loyal to each other and no matter what someone needs, you try to help them out. This is passed through the generations.


Did you get what you needed from this program?

SJVC is a great school and a good environment. I know I made my parents (Esmeralda and Obed) proud, and it brought them a great deal of joy to see me finish my program. It makes me happy to think this could push someone else into doing this to better themselves.

The biggest thing is to just start. Support is one of the most important things, but if someone wants it hard enough, there’s always some way to get through it.


How did you land your first position after completing the program?

My Career Services Advisor, Manuel, coached me on how to act in my job search and was such a big help. He gave me questions to ask during my interviews and gave me non-stop support. He put me in touch with a temp agency that helped me secure the position I have now.

I told Manuel I could take it from here, but I know that if I needed to reach out, he would be there immediately.


Can you tell us about your new position?

I currently work through a temporary agency as a Medical Records clerk for a medical facility. This is my first job and during training I work on a computer port from 8:00-5:00. I build patient files, compile documents into charts and am responsible for finding medical facilities on behalf of patients.

And, because this is my first job, I want to get everything right to get a good reference to my next position working on location. This is a good first experience because this company has over 35 locations and I am always open to going somewhere new.

Everyone has been very helpful, and I really enjoy coming here to work and seeing all my coworkers.


What is your vision for the future?

I see myself getting into a higher position here, but I want to go back to school eventually for something a little more hands-on in the medical field.

The ultimate goal is to help someone. My entire life I’ve had a hearing problem in both ears and got help for that. I want to work in an area to help people in the same way I was helped. I’m thinking maybe Respiratory Therapy. One of the more important things in life is being able to breathe. That is very interesting to me.

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