Helen Ponte Rego, 2019 Medical Assistant Graduate
Prima CARE P.C. Center for Vascular Diseases in Fall River
Enrolling in MTTI’s Medical Assistant program almost 30 years after graduating high school, I wondered if I could successfully train for a new career. The support of family, classmates and a great program Instructor helped me reach my goal.
What do you do when you’re laid off from a position in which you’ve worked for many years?
I was 46 years old, wondering where to go to start over. I had worked my way up from Personal Care Assistant to Home Health Aide to Habilitation Specialist—and finally to a Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant—for adults with disabilities. I loved the work; unfortunately budget cuts did away with the Rehab Therapy Assistant position.
Medical Assisting is a great fit for people who enjoy caring for others.
I’ve always been told I am a people-person. I need a job that offers security, stability and longevity. Some of my friends, who had gone to MTTI, told me to ‘check out the school’. I interviewed and enrolled in the Medical Assistant program. But I worried that, after so many years out of school, I might not be able to grab all the information in a 6-month training. Would I really be prepared to work at the end of the program?
I felt more than a little overwhelmed during the first weeks of school.
My husband and children encouraged me, ‘You can do this!’ I had been a single working mom--raising three children—until I married during 2017. The man I married is a videographer; I help him as second camera for the wedding videos he films. While in school, he helped me create pamphlets for my class projects.
I almost quit—but after the first month, I got into a groove.
It’s the ‘un-knowing’ that can make school nerve-wracking. You want to study the right material for each test. Ms. Courtney gave us a monthly calendar for each course module. By following the calendar, I knew when, and what to study. When I got back my first test scores, I was proud of the grade I had earned. I had confidence that, with the support of my family, and by continuing to study the way I had for this first test, I could move forward.
Support from Ms. Courtney and a great group of classmates helped keep me motivated.
During six months of training, the class became one big family. We got along well and helped each other, which made it pleasurable to learn. When one of us had a bad day, the rest of us would pick her up. Especially when more than one of us experienced the loss of a family member while in school, we shared a lot of caring and compassion.
My classmates ranged in age from 19 to my 46 years.
They called me the ‘mom of the class’; I was the nurturing one. In turn, the younger, more computer savvy students taught me how to share info on Google Docs. They helped me set up my account and navigate through it. Learning basic computer skills and how to share information helped me later on the job. I’m able to attach a file and email it to a doctor, and also share information from office to office. I can pull up documents on the exam room computers so that the ultrasound and test reports are ready for medical providers to review.
I was well-prepared at MTTI to meet expectations in the medical field.
Lots of hands-on practice in taking vitals and performing blood draws, plus learning about the tests and medications patients take, made me feel ready to re-enter the workforce. Ms. Courtney taught us to expect that providers will have good and bad days. She instilled in us the desire to do our best every day to put patients at ease and make it easier for providers to care for patients.
Internship smooths the transition from school to work.
My friend Rebecca, a 2017 MTTI graduate, suggested I shadow at her office before choosing an internship. She works at one of the Prima CARE P.C. Center for Vascular Disease locations. While shadowing there, I let the Office Manager know I was interested in an internship. Contracting with the Center for the 160-hour internship relieved some of my stress.
On the last day of internship The Vascular Center offered me a full-time position.
Internship gives you a chance to explore how the office runs, and what is expected of you. Four weeks into the internship, I felt comfortable that I ‘knew the ropes’. Since being hired, I have been learning new things I didn’t have access to while I was interning.
The practice values my language skills—I speak Portuguese as well as English.
I’m thankful my Grandfather was determined that I learn his native language. Several of our locations will call and ask if I can speak with patients whose primarily language is Portuguese. Speaking Portuguese with patients who come in to our Center makes them feel they’ve had a better experience than they had anticipated.
I feel rewarded when I am able to help a patient.
One day, while interacting with a Portuguese-speaking patient who was in pain, we were able to squeeze in an appointment for her. She kept saying, ‘Thank You, God Bless You.’ She was so happy that someone could speak her language and talk with her about her medical condition. Her gratitude made me feel happy. When that happens, you know you are doing good work.
At the start of school, I didn’t picture myself working in a vascular setting.
During internship, I became interested in vascular procedures. I was happy and excited when they offered me the opportunity to work there. I am comfortable working on a team with Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and other Medical Assistants.
MTTI’s short-term training program packs a lot of information into it.
It’s not an easy course. At the end you definitely have the knowledge and skills to work as a Medical Assistant. The preparation is well worth your investment and hard work. Repetition of information and skills throughout the program increases your proficiency. Ms. Courtney expects a lot of you, but she knows if you work hard, you will be able to do it. Put 100% into the program, and you’ll get 100% out of it. Ms. Courtney will help you become a confident, competent medical professional.
Medicine is a rewarding career.
Medical Assistants are the first person the patient sees. When patients are in pain, or just not having a good day, it’s amazing how a smile on your face can change the way they feel. Treat patients with respect and you will become more than a Medical Assistant doing a job. You’ll be the caring, compassionate person who made their day a little better.
It feels great to back into the workforce!
I’m a go-getter—I don’t like to sit around. I’m so happy to be getting up each day and going to work. I tell myself, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ Walking into the office each morning, I put my personal problems aside—Ms. Courtney taught me that the patient always comes first. My training at MTTI has taught me not only medical knowledge and skills, but the importance of staying positive while doing the work.
Top - Helen at graduation with Medical Assistant Instructors Ms. Roxanne (left) and Ms. Courtney (right)
Middle - Helen with her family at graduation.
Bottom - Helen with classmates wearing Ms. Courtney’s gift of class sweatshirts. Helen is in the back row, to the right of middle, wearing sunglasses.