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“I want my kids too see it is never too late,” shares Veronica Quinones. “I will be the first in my family to graduate and walk across the stage at Purdue University.”
Quinones is one of six West Central Region team members taking a big step in building their careers with IU Health.
With the backing of their IU Health leader, colleagues and the IU Health Foundation, they are part of an accelerated program through Purdue Global to become certified medical assistants (MA II), at no cost. The second group to go through this program, this cohort, pictured, comprises:
The accelerated program includes four 10-week terms in which the participants take three courses per term — followed by an externship and a credentialing exam. Graduation will be on Tuesday, Sept. 12—a date circled on the calendar.
The group is currently in their second term.
“Term one was a nice easy pace—remember, none of us have been in school for a while,’ says Mayes. “Term two has been a major adjustment. Working together makes it so much better. Everyone is going through the exact same thing. If one of us falls behind, the rest of us are there to help them catch up.”
Each Tuesday and Thursday the cohort meets in a corner room in the basement of the Greenbush Street medical office to go over homework and assignments. Their three lectures take place every evening except Monday, from 8 – 11 pm, with discussion board assignments due on Sunday evenings. They must get an 80% on each mandatory assignment to continue with the program.
“Being a part of the cohort not only has given me the chance to advance my education, but I have gained a great leader and five lovely, hard-working coworkers I can truly call my friends,” says McHale.
The group also has a dedicated mentor — practice manager Monica Sanchez — to support, coach and encourage them throughout the program.
“Seeing these ladies grow in their educational goals gives me chills. They are not only an MA cohort; they've become ‘sisters;’ when one person has a problem, they all have a problem,” shares Sanchez. “The strength within this group is powerful.”
Helping support this program are IU Health Foundation donors Gary and Shelly Henriott, who stopped by on Valentine's Day to encourage the group with a few treats.
All six have a ‘why’ that makes the challenging program worth it
Rustchak is looking for the balanced schedule that a medical office offers over being in a hospital-based role.
“I am getting married in a few weeks and looking to start a family,” she shares.
She is hoping for a position in OB-GYN so she can continue working with expectant moms and continue her child seat passenger safety technician work.
“I love working in healthcare,” says Bullock, whose day starts at 4 am after her 30-minute commute. “I enjoy taking care of people and the more you learn the better care you can provide.”
“I have always wanted to further my career,” says Mayes. “My son (14) and I take turns doing homework and supporting each other. Last term we were studying the same thing in science.”
Lamson was a certified nursing assistant when she graduated from high school. Her career goals were put on hold as she raised her three children. “My husband and my children have always come first, but now it’s my time,” she says. “I keep trying to better myself and expand my knowledge. I have always worked in healthcare, but I miss working hands on with patients.”
“I have worked in the same department for the past 14 years. I love my job, but I have watched other team members go back to school and move on. Now it is my turn,” shares Quinones who is bilingual and looking forward to helping patients who are non-English speakers.
“As a young mom at 17, I had to do an accelerated high school program to graduate on time with my class,” says McHale. “I was a single mom for the first few years, which didn’t leave time for college. Now I am married, older and have a supportive family and workplace, taking the opportunity to complete this program is worth the hard extra work. I look forward to being hands on with patients and being able to put my education to use to serve IU Health.”
At the end of each term, the group celebrates with a carry-in and remind each other that it is a marathon, not a race. Soon they will be walking across a stage in a cap and gown, celebrating their achievement with their families.