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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Medical Office career provides greater satisfaction for recent graduate

April 9, 2015
Online Medical Office Administration student Tiana Horn
Tiana uses her Medical Office Administration education to guide family members through their own medical and health insurance issues.

Tiana Horn has always been interested in the medical field. She has a natural curiosity about how the human body works and she felt that, combined with the empathy she has for others, Medical Assisting would be a great career choice. It turned out to be an idea that fell a little short of a perfect match.

“I realized that the clerical part was more my speed instead of hands-on,” says Tiana, who had become a certified Medical Assistant a few years ago. “I wanted to understand the background of health insurance, in case I need to be a voice for my family members and translate what the doctor is talking about and understand what insurance will cover.”

Tiana is part of a large family, many of whom have struggled with and succumbed to long-term health issues, including her beloved grandmother, Annette. Her health care experience was complicated and confusing. “It was kind of nerve-wracking when we talked to a health care person or health insurance,” says Tiana.

After losing her grandmother, Tiana was determined to develop expertise in medical communication so that she could better help others understand the language that sets their care and coverage. She enrolled in SJVC’s Online Medical Office Administration program and found exactly what she needed.

“The key is knowing how billing, coding and patient charts work,” says Tiana. “Accuracy, medical terminology, anatomy of the body, are all very important.”

In the Medical Office Administration program, Tiana had found her focus, her natural abilities and her voice within her family. “I did not expect for it to come so easily and naturally for me,” she says. “This is what I was supposed to be doing at this time.”

“Tiana did a fantastic job in her program, and never skipped a beat,” says Alex Nolasco, Student Advisor. “She was always one step ahead of her courses and her program. She was on the Dean’s List for her entire program and graduated with a 3.68 GPA.”

It could very easily have gone a different way. Throughout her Medical Office Administration program, Tiana was working full-time as a bus operator for the Metro Transit Authority in Los Angeles. Her job of 4 years was stressful and unpredictable.

But nothing weighed as heavily upon her heart and shoulders as the constant anguish of watching two family members fight – and lose – their battles with cancer. A cousin with breast cancer and an uncle with pancreatic cancer died just three months apart, while Tiana was still in school.

“I was there during both of their illnesses – we all were – giving them moral support and showing them they were loved,” says Tiana. “In my family, you just keep fighting and don’t give up.”

Tiana was just as determined not to give up on her online Medical Office Administration program and her studies. “I thought I would get behind in my schoolwork because so much was going on in my family,” she says. “But by the grace of God, I kept in school, got good grades and kept my job.”

Tiana got a lot of encouragement and support from her Student Advisor, Alex, as well as from classmates, who were scattered all over the nation. “I enjoyed interacting with other students, and we encouraged each other throughout the whole course.”

The greatest support came from those closest to Tiana, including 15 brothers and sisters, who witnessed every day the effort it took for her to keep her commitment to her education.

“My dad, my stepmom, my mother were all glad to see me doing this,” says Tiana. “They were proud of me and glad I decided to take the time out of my life to focus on school and not let work-life keep me from finishing.”

She got lots of good advice along the way. “My mom (Tania) always told me growing up that I could be anything I wanted to be in my life, and to not let anybody stop me,” says Tiana.

Tiana lived that philosophy. “I’ve always been a fighter; I go in and achieve something one way or another. Go hard, or go home!”

But the whisper she hears with her heart is that of her grandmother. “She was my best friend and role model,” says Tiana. “She told me I will have struggles in my life being a woman, and different struggles in my life as an African American woman. She told me, ‘Still, be proud of who you are and be proud of being in your own skin.'”

All of these voices of love and encouragement harmonize in Tiana’s life and give her a song she will share with others through a long future of good works.


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