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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Medical Assisting student grabs the next rung in her career ladder

August 29, 2016
Medical Assistant program student Domonique Washington
Domonique Washington takes her job and education very seriously, and is currently sacrificing sleep and an active social life to become a medical assistant.

As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Domonique Washington knows beyond any doubt that she is in the right career field, but she isn’t in as deep as she needs to be to feel like an integral part of the medical team.

“I should be more involved with my patients, not just the physical aspect, but emotionally and physically,” says Domonique. “I want to do more to help them figure out what they need specifically from their doctors so that they could have better medical care.”

For the last five years, Domonique has worked off-and-on full-time in a healthcare center for geriatric care. Her natural empathy for her patients makes her want to up her level of expertise so that she can give those in her charge even more of what they need for a healthier life.

Domonique put a plan into motion when her mom, Tasha, a recent Medical Assisting program graduate on the Lancaster campus, brought home a brochure outlining the Medical Assistant program. Domonique liked what she read and recognized enrollment as the next logical step to take toward her career goals.

Two months in, Domonique knows she in on track. “I’m learning more about the practice (medical), and if I feel the need to continue on as an RN (Registered Nurse) or even a doctor, I already have a good knowledge base.”

As a working CNA, Domonique’s background allows her to breeze through some of the coursework, but much of the hands-on training and pharmacology-related studies are first-time experiences. “Calculating the right dosage and giving injections is brand new for me,” she says. “I was a little nervous and scared to poke someone with a needle, but after a while, I got used to it. We all trust each other and everyone’s doing really well with that now.”

Holding down her full-time job and maintaining a 4.0 GPA requires some serious juggling skill. Sometimes there is a loss…or two.

“I’m compromising my social life for my education,” says Domonique. “A handful of friends don’t really understand that I take my education, as well as my job, very seriously. I pretty much don’t hear from them anymore.” Other long-term friends know her better and understand. “They’re all going to school, so they get it.”

The other hard loss is a bit more predictable given her work-and-school schedule: Sleep. Domonique pushes through on 5-6 hours each weeknight.

“That’s been the biggest surprise because I love to sleep!” says Domonique. “Weekends are pretty much when I hibernate all day. If I have to work, I get up at some point.”

She struggles with the sacrifices she has to make to get from here to there.

“I try to just take time out to myself and re-center so that I can be close to my full potential Monday through Thursday (class schedule),” says Domonique. “I just like to read, go to the movies with a friend or two; just typical 20-year-old stuff. It’s kind of hard to act my age; I’m so busy being an adult, going to school, going to work, paying bills. But it will pay off pretty soon.”

Domonique is confident in her direction. “I’m a little too confident sometimes,” she admits. “But so far it’s been serving me well.” She lives with her parents, Tasha and Chris, who have always been her strongest supporters. “I learned at an early age that if I see something I want, I go and get it. They tell me, ‘We’re not worried; we know you’ve got this.’”

Her parents are not the only ones who see the success that lies ahead for Domonique.

“This is her second mod and she’s doing great, but that’s expected,” says Heather Blunt, Medical Assistant instructor. “With her current background in the medical field, I believe she holds the compassion, patience and tenacity to fly through this program and achieve her goals of a higher qualified position as a CMA (Certified Medical Assistant).”

Domonique’s motivation was clear. “She works as a CNA, but she was desiring more; more credentials, more pay and more opportunities,” says Heather.

“When I first got my Nursing Assistant certification, as time went on I knew this isn’t enough for me,” says Domonique. “I wanted to be able to make decisions and be more personally, physically, and medically involved with patients. It feels good to have that level of responsibility.”

She sees more open doors ahead. “There’s only so many avenues and workplaces I can go to now,” she says. “But as a Medical Assistant, I can go to a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital and work in the front office or back office doing clinicals or surgeries – whatever they need me to do; I can do so much more.”

Domonique can envision her future as it continues to unfold before her. She wants to keep the momentum going after she completes her Medical Assistant Certificate program by moving directly into the degree-granting program at SJVC. No pause button for her.


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