PC alumna Ariel Hodge has worked at Olympic Medical Physicians Women’s Health Clinic as an MA-C for the past three years. Originally from Northern California, she moved up to Washington to attend Peninsula College. She shares her experience in the college’s medical assisting program and the community in this month’s blog.
By Ariel Hodge
I stumbled into medical assisting, actually. I really was not familiar with the profession before enrolling at Peninsula College. I was just beginning to become interested in the medical field and really see myself making a career out of it. I applied to both the nursing and medical assisting programs, but after getting more information on both programs, I really found myself drawn to the variety of different duties that an MA performs on any given day. It really seemed like a “best of both worlds” kind of scenario.
I attended Peninsula College and graduated with an Associate of Applied Science along with my Medical Assisting Certificate. Overall, I had a thoroughly excellent experience at PC. I always felt as though the professors were truly passionate about teaching their subjects, which made the learning experience so much more enjoyable. When I began taking the core medical assisting classes this was, even more, the case. Rachel Pairsh, as an instructor, was one of the most valuable resources we could have had. Learning from someone who not only knows about the subject but also has done it makes all the difference!
My main challenge while going through school was that I was working full time as well, which was very hard. There were month-long stretches where I did not have a single day off between classes, homework, and work. I was lucky to have a group of friends and family who were able to support me, and that really made all the difference. I definitely started out thinking that I could do (the program) no problem, but quickly learned that that was not the case, nor was it necessary. I think the best resource I had during my schooling was the friends that I made in the program. We were all going through the same classes, same learning curves, same stress, etc., so there was no one better to go to when you were worried about a paper or did not understand a lab checkoff. Use the people around you and give the same when they need you.
Nowadays, I work from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. A typical day as a Women’s Health MA really starts the day before. Chart prep is the most useful tool that I have during the day, so I always try to make sure I’ve taken ample time the night before to have a thorough understanding of what types of patients are coming in the next day. We see a very wide array of visit types: obstetric patients in all stages of pregnancy, routine gynecological exams and screening, a variety of contraception, pre-and post-operative visits, as well as problem-specific visits for more detailed exams and procedures. The majority of the time in my day is spent rooming patients and assisting our providers with exams and procedures. In between patients, we also do quite a bit of scheduling and attending to labs as needed. As the main medical assistant at our 8th & Vine clinic location, I also must make time to do routine office upkeep such as ordering supplies, quality control measures, outdates/inventory, etc.
Working at Women’s Health is incredibly rewarding. This is the area of healthcare that I have always wanted to focus on since I began getting familiar with the different service lines available to an MA. Our days are busy, sometimes hectic, but always interesting. I am constantly learning new things and never since I started here have I felt like my career would be stagnant. It is probably a tie between the two things that I enjoy most about my job. Firstly, would be the people that I work with. I do not think I have ever had a job where I could honestly say I like and thoroughly enjoy working with all my coworkers, but that is definitely the case here! Our team of MAs, RNs, and admin staff is just that, a team, there is not anything that “isn’t my job”; we always are there to help when needed. Our team of providers is amazing. We have four MDs/surgeons, three certified nurse midwives, and a certified physician’s assistant in our clinic. All of whom are simply wonderful with our patients and are all a joy to work with. They are always willing to teach and explain which makes the rest of our clinical support staff more knowledgeable, which makes our patient care even better. Secondly, I sincerely enjoy being able to bring a sense of normalcy and comfort to patients in a specialty that is not only difficult to talk about for a lot of people, but also where there is simply a lack of education. Women’s Healthcare is so much more than just babies and birth control (although there are a lot of those!), and as they say, knowledge is power.
For anyone interested in working in women’s health, or as a medical assistant in general, my advice would be to do your research. Not just regarding pay or job availability, but about the kind of work you will be doing, and the level of interaction with patients you will have daily. This job is something that you want to have a passion for. That is what will make you go the extra mile for your patients. If someone does decide that this is the job for them, Peninsula College is the gold standard in medical assisting programs. Rachel has gone above and beyond to make sure that the graduates they turn out will be successful and excel wherever they end up being employed. Be prepared to commit to two years of hard work, but it was so, so worth it when I graduated.
The Olympic Medical Physicians Women’s Health Clinic is part of Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles, Washington. Women’s Health serves the unique healthcare needs of women in Clallam County. This clinic offers contraception, pregnancy, and postpartum services. Other services offered include annual pelvic and breast preventative exams, pap smears and birth control consultations. They assist patients who experience health conditions, including pelvic pain, infertility, menstruation issues, fibroids, ovarian cysts, urinary incontinence, STIs, menopause, and hormone disorders.
To learn more about the OMP Women’s Health Clinic, visit https://www.olympicmedical.org/services/womens-health/.
To learn more about the Medical Assisting Program at Peninsula College, visit https://pencol.edu/proftech/medical-assisting or call (360) 417-6414.