Q and A with Androscoggin Valley Hospital (AVH) Medical Assistant Apprentices
Mark Loven of Milan, NH and Amy Gerard of Berlin, NH sat down with ApprenticeshipNH to discuss their successes as medical assistant apprentices.
College: White Mountains Community College
Q. How did you first hear about the medical assistant Registered Apprenticeship opportunity and what made you decide to apply?
Amy: I first heard about the opportunity on social media and applied on a whim. I have been looking to change careers and this seemed like a good fit. It was a good way to go back to school and learn something new while getting paid for it, without having to pay tuition and start all over again. Prior to this, I was an emergency dispatcher for 16 years.
Mark: I heard about the program through my wife who works with the instructor and thought I’d be a good fit. At the time, I was working at Northern Human Services and was actually up for a promotion, but I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to continue to do with my life. I took a couple of weeks to think about it and then decided to apply to the apprentice program. I was previously an LNA before working with Northern Human Services and had actually applied to AVH several times without success. But, through ApprenticeshipNH, I got a call back instantly and I am really glad I did.
Q. What did you find to be most helpful during your apprenticeship experience?
Mark: I think I sat next to the smartest person in the room during the entire class and that probably helped! My fellow classmate Kristen had a lot more college experience and really excelled at the terminology. It was very helpful to have her next to me and help along the way. My other classmate Kelly was also very helpful with questions and looking things up to make sure we all understood.
Amy: What really helped me was knowing there was assistance out there if I needed it. I knew I could ask Kelly (the college instructor) anytime I needed help. Also, the college offered their Student Assistance Center as a resource and that was very helpful.
Mark: The college offered us every resource they had, which was very nice.
Amy: It was nice knowing that I had these resources to fall back on because I hadn’t been to college since 1994. It was tough getting back into studying!
Q. Anything in particular that stands out to you as a favorite moment in the program?
Mark: I really enjoyed drawing blood – that was probably the most fun for me. Also, it was nice having an AVH employee come to our class and instruct us on lab draws, technical procedures and vitals – that was a huge help and a favorite moment.
Amy: Our instructor came up with some really creative ways for us to review the material once we got toward the end of the course and were getting ready to study for our exam. We did a lot of different things to review which made it fun.
Q. What kind of qualities do you think it takes to be successful in an apprenticeship program like this?
Amy: Perseverance. You have to go into it realizing that for many weeks of your life this is going to be your number one priority and you have to be committed to putting in the work.
Mark: Intelligence certainly doesn’t hurt! I think conscientiousness when it comes to being out of the classroom and on the job. It’s important to recognize your limitations, especially at first, and to learn as much as you can by reading!
Q. Did what you learned in the classroom set you up well for the on the job training portion of the program?
Mark: For the most part, yes. At the beginning of the job training portion, they worked us in very slowly as we focused on the patient and getting their vitals down perfectly. The next week, we would add one more step and the next week yet another. One we mastered one skill we’d be ready for the next.
Amy: I agree with Mark. The process was very helpful.
Q. Why did you choose this career path? What inspired you to choose something in healthcare?
Mark: I wanted to go into medicine for some time. I was an LNA and a med-tech for 11 years, and I felt like I reached the max of what I could do with my MNA. I was in nursing school right before my wife got pregnant. During that time, I chose to stop taking classes and enter the workforce. I always said I’d like to go back because I enjoyed medicine and I think that I’m pretty good at it. When I saw this opportunity with ApprenticeshipNH and AVH, I decided to take it!
Amy: I wanted to get back into healthcare. Before I was a dispatcher, I was a lab technician for eight years and that’s what my college degree is in. But I didn’t want to go back into healthcare in that capacity, so this was a very nice compromise. It was a great opportunity to get back into healthcare without the stress that comes with trying to get another degree.
Q. What have you learned about yourself while participating in this program and what sort of advice would you give to someone who might be considering doing something like this?
Mark: I learned that I have a lot more to learn! Every day I am working on something new and different and I have to figure out why it’s done a certain way, and the best way to do it. I learn something new every day. The advice I would give is to be patient with yourself. You will probably get overwhelmed from time to time, but this feeling will pass. Just keep going forward and doing the best you can.
Amy: I would say to keep moving forward. Even when feeling overwhelmed, keep moving forward.
Mark: The first week is definitely the overwhelming part. After that, you get into the rhythm.
Amy: I would also add that you’re never too old to learn something new. At the age of 45, I was one of the older ones in the class. Take it from me, it’s never too late to start over!
Q. What’s your next step in your career after you complete the program?
Mark: I have another year to go in the program, so I haven’t thought that much about it. But I might look at where my life is at in a year and see if nursing school is a possibility.
Amy: I see myself staying with this. I’m having a blast!
Mark: It’s really fun!
Amy: I get up every morning and I’m excited to go to work now.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Amy: I would say depending on which apprenticeship you choose, it’s important to be prepared for the intense classroom portion. Remember, you can do it!
Mark: Sure, it’s going to be a challenge but if you are up for it, you’ll make it. It’s that simple! You’ll have all of the information you need, and you just have to take the time to learn it.