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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Small Town Limits Career Choices

April 10, 2013

MonicaWith a population of around 12,000, Blackfoot, Idaho doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of employment opportunities.

“The best job I could hope for was WalMart or the bank; we have a lot of banks but they don’t pay much,” says SJVC medical assisting student Monica Verlanic. “We have a couple of grocery stores and a police station, but you’re lucky if the police station is hiring.”

The greatest employment opportunities lie with the Bingham Memorial Hospital Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and Idaho Doctor’s Hospital, which employs approximately 500 people.

Monica was able to get her foot in the door at Bingham as a Certified Nursing Assistant (back office) with the stipulation that she complete her online Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting program and pass the state test for certification.  “Everyone at the hospital has been very encouraging and supportive for me to go to school,” says Monica, who is also completing her CAMA program Externship there.

But, no one has been more supportive than her own family. Monica’s husband, Paul, and their four children, ranging in age from 2-11, have pitched in to make it work. “Paul does all the cooking, kids do the chores, and my oldest son helps take care of the baby,” she says.

The most difficult time was when Paul had to work in North Dakota for 4-months and was on a 2-weeks gone/1-week home cycle. “That was a long stretch,” says Monica, who had to juggle full-time work, online classes, the kids’ sports schedules, homework and running the house without his help.

Even with this hectic schedule Monica managed to make the Dean’s List 11-times. The first time she received the Dean’s List certification in the mail, Paul posted it on Facebook for all their friends and family to see. “It was nice to see how proud of me he was,” says Monica.

Asked about the greatest obstacle she encountered along the way, Monica says, “It was all hard.” She understands why students who are struggling might want to quit or at least take a break; but she cautions against it. “Don’t stop, no matter how hard it gets,” she says. “Once you stop, it’s hard to go back. And don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Her own struggle to graduate is almost at its end – and Monica isn’t sure how she feels about it or what she will do with the extra time. “I think it’s going to be very strange because I’m used to doing so much,” she says. But, about one thing, she has no doubt: “It was worth it.”


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