Interview with Evamarie Hernandez
Evamarie Hernandez is a certified Professional Healthcare Instructor and Phlebotomy Program Coordinator at National American University. She is also a Medical Laboratory Technician at Colorado Springs Health Partners. A human rights and social action advocate, Eva has been a guest speaker at Pima Medical Institute and TESSA. You can connect with her on Linkedin or Twitter.
What is your background and how did you decide that you wanted to begin a career in healthcare?
My background really started in a lot of social service organizations such as TESSA which is the local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention center and then I also did some work for 211 which kind of connects people with the needs that they have and the organizations that provide answers for that and for some reason it just progressed that I continued to do social service. Health has always fascinated me. So I enrolled as a medical assistant student and it went from there.
It does seem that you have been on an incredible journey in the healthcare field. Did you have any specific goals in mind when you originally set out to become a medical assistant?
I think my goal has always been and always will be just to help people in any way that I can and that social service background has helped me in the healthcare field because we do hear a lot of the woes of our patients and I’ve been able to tell them all there’s this organization or this service that may be able to help you out and to provide them not just with their healthcare needs but also meet some other needs that they have. As far as goals, I think it’s always kind of been a fluid journey. I allow it to progress and see where I’m pointed to. I kind of follow my intuition. So the goal has just always been to help.
What qualifications did you have to become an MA and where did you originally train to become that?
Everest College was where I attended and they needed you to have, of course be 18 or over, and to have a GED or high school diploma, which I did not have. So I needed to get my GED very quickly to be able to enrol in the class as a medical assistant!
What advice would you offer to those individuals who may be thinking of pursuing a career in medical assisting and what should they look for when choosing a training program?
I think the first thing is to educate yourself on the financial aid, how that works and what happens after you graduate. You need to know what the training programs are offering specifically and what their accreditation is. Because if you decide to further your education afterwards you want to know that you’re going to get some credit for what you’ve already done. But it’s hard work and it’s demanding. There is a lot of MA programs out there so they’re putting a lot of MAs out into the field, so what you bring to the table, always bring something that is genuine that’s going to make you stand out.
What aspect of being an MA did you find the most rewarding?
I have to say that it would be my patients. I mean if you are truly caring for one patient at a time and not thinking about “I got ten more waiting” because the one in front of you in the most important. And being open. They teach you things, you know, you learn things from them and I think that they have always been the most rewarding part of my job.
When you were working as an MA, how would you describe your typical duties and how much of your work was say administrative as opposed to the clinical side of it?
I think now with the advent of medical health records – electronic medical health records – it is really half and half. A lot of it is clinical and while you’re doing that clinical part you’re also doing that administrative part, by filling in all of their information in the EHR, so you know, rooming your patients, doing their vitals, getting the histories, responding to their questions, and you’re the advocate for your patient when you speak to your doctor and then of course the voice of your doctor when you’re giving your patient their education and their information after their visit.
What personal qualities do you think really are needed to help an individual to stand out and become a very successful MA?
I think you have to genuinely want to be there for your patients, it’s not just a paycheck. You definitely have to be a multi-tasker, and just be you, be genuine, patient and the people you work with will notice that. I think that is what makes you stand out.
One of your current roles is that of Medical Laboratory Technician at Colorado Springs Health Partners. What specific training did you have in order to work in this role?
After I became a medical assistant I started teaching and that’s when I went to school for a medical lab tech. I took a 2 year degree in Applied Science. It was hard! There’s a whole other side to it, you know, there’s the chemistry, the biology, special chemistry, blood taking, urinalysis, microbiology, mycology, parasitology. So it takes a lot but it’s that curiosity and that wanting to obtain more knowledge, so back to school I had to go.
In terms of the job prospects for those that are training to become MAs right now, how do you see the future for MAs?
The future is good for MAs. I think of course healthcare is never going to go away. If anything it’s just getting bigger and again because so many MA programs are topping up, they’re pumping a lot of MAs out into the workforce. So the prospects are good as long as you have something you bring to the table that sets you apart.
You’re currently also Phlebotomy Program Coordinator at National American University and Medical Assistant Program Instructor at Intellitec College. How would you describe your day to day role for these positions?
Oh my goodness! So as an instructor, you know, your job is to prep your materials, make sure your students are on track, make sure you’re on track, but also to make sure that your students are getting clear instruction, they’re ready to continue, make the learning environment diverse. People learn different ways and as an instructor you need to know how to be able to reach each student on the level that they learn. I try to make it as fun as I can, but it’s hard. The coordinator piece – holy cow! I do it from beginning to end, I enrol the students, I teach the class, I proctor their national certification tests, so I do public relations, student outreach and education, I do continuing engagement, of course all of the administrative duties. I also make sure that I am trained and educated in what I’m going to teach them. I started in October and it’s been a journey that I have absolutely loved and enjoyed.
If you were starting out today, how do you think you’d do things differently?
The first thing I think of is I should have gotten my high school diploma instead of messing around so much! I think I would have educated myself better on the financial aid aspect of schooling, shopped around a little bit more to see what is out there as far as instruction for MAs, but I don’t know if I would do it differently, because I am where I am and I’m so happy with it, so if I changed the beginning I might not ever end up here.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I hope to be the director for Phlebotomy for Colorado with National American University. I am hoping that this particular Phlebotomy program is going to grow and that I’ll be able to grow with it. I also see myself obtaining my Masters and I’m hoping it’ll either be in public health or in organizational leadership.