Q&A with Clinical Medical Assisting graduate Jessika Thompson
Jessika Thompson was determined to not let her lifelong struggle with anxiety hold her back from the medical career she had always wanted. She decided she would not even tell her fiancé, Ricky, or closest friends and family that she was considering going to SJVC’s Clinical Medical Assisting (CMA) program in Modesto. She didn’t want the pressure of other voices, eyes and advice of even those she loved and trusted the most – or their disappointment if she could not make that education commitment.
“I’d dealt with a lot of depression and anxiety, that’s why it took me so long to go to college. I just didn’t want to hear, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’, she admits. “I didn’t want to feel discouraged.”
Jessika met with SJVC’s Admissions staff, toured the CMA classrooms and labs and collected all the information she needed to make her decision. She felt she had to get there on her own.
“I just kept it all to myself,” says Jessika. “I’m just praying and asking God to help me with it.” She got her answer. “Once I was done applying, that’s when I told my fiancé (Ricky), and then I called my parents (Ken and Wendy). Everyone was very happy and supportive.”
When did you first consider a career in the medical field?
I’ve always been fascinated with anything medical. Since I was a little kid, I used to say that I wanted a job where I could wear scrubs. I’d been a caregiver for five years and worked with patients with dementia. I loved it, but it’s a difficult job and you have to go into it with your heart.
I chose medical assisting because I would still be working with people, and I’m 100% a people-person.
The driving force for me was thinking about my future and my future kids. I want to provide a good life for them and give them things I never was able to have growing up. I want my parents to be proud.
What was the Clinical Medical Assisting program like for you?
Everybody that was in my class, including my teacher, and all the girlfriends I got to work with were really nice. I was really excited just to be going to school. And I made two really good friends now.
I wasn’t expecting to do blood draws on each other. That was kind of scary, but it was fun. My favorite experience was doing injections. I loved that and still love doing those.
The only thing I really struggled with was when it came to the math portion – dosage calculations. Other than that, I did really good and graduated with a 3.7 GPA.
When did you struggle the most?
I was still working when I was going to school, so I was really tired. Right before I started extern (job experience in the medical field) I had to quit working 40-hours a week as a caregiver. Ricky and I have been together for 11-years and he was very supportive. My parents offered to help pay our bills for the next couple of months, which was so very helpful.
Were there other obstacles?
I’d dealt with a lot of mental illness these past ten years, so school was honestly a really big step for me. I didn’t want anybody telling me I couldn’t do something when I know I’m capable, if I put my mind to it.
There were only two days when I had to stay home from school when I had anxiety. But I just kept pushing myself. I know I’m capable of doing something if I put my mind to it. Life is too short to be scared all the time, so I just went for it.
Did you find the support you needed to push through your bouts of stress and anxiety?
Ms. Melody (CMA faculty) was my biggest help through the whole program. I can’t thank her enough. She didn’t allow me to quit, and she believed in me more than I believed in myself. There were lots of tears, but she never failed to put a smile on my face and continue to cheer me on.
What inspired you to complete your program?
I never considered dropping out. I was always thinking about my future. I want kids one day and I just really want to be a good role model for them. I want my family happy. I want my parents to be proud of what I accomplished. They always tell me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.
What advice would you give to others who struggle with depression or other challenges that threaten their education and career dreams?
Do not give up. It’s going to be better in the long run. Just keep pushing through. That’s what I kept telling myself during that time.
I learned to never doubt myself, even if it’s scary at first.
What is your first medical assisting position in your new career like?
My first day I was not nervous at all, just excited. I’m working at All Care Medical Group as a Medical Assistant and it’s the best job ever! I still have the same attitude of compassion and I enjoy each patient who comes in, mostly the elderly who still have their stories to tell.
I ask patients about their medical histories, take their vitals, height and weight, blood pressure and list of medications. The days are busy and everybody I’m working with seems so happy. This is going to be a good adventure!
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