Linda Hernandez graduated from Summit College’s Medical Assistant program in March 2017. This was a big career change for her, and she originally thought she would transition to more of a medical billing and coding program. After doing further research, however, she came to the realization that one-on-one patient care would definitely make her happier.
For Linda, the thought of going back to school was exciting, yet intimidating. Here she was, 40 years old, making a complete career change, with no college experience. It was daunting. “I picked Summit because I visited other schools in the area and Summit didn’t feel forced. I felt forced and pressured with the others. I prayed about it. My husband and I prayed about it. Summit was the right choice for me.” All of her nerves and fears went out the door rather quickly. She explained, “The beginning was hard. I was 40 years old, just a high school graduate. But before you knew it, I had a bunch of girlfriends all over again. And my teacher was extremely knowledgeable. She was a lot younger than I was but didn’t treat me like some older lady. I was used to training girls her age in my field, and here I was as her student. She was amazing.” Linda could not speak more highly of the positive experiences she had. “The staff was amazing; my teacher was amazing. They worked with me really well. They were very supportive.”
Upon graduation, Linda obtained a position in an office, working as a medical assistant for a physical therapist, where she still works today. She has a wide variety of responsibilities, including authorization of all new patients and setting up appointments, as well as strategically and efficiently setting up the physical therapist’s schedule, making sure it is always full. She also does some medical billing and coding, conducts intake interviews, asks insurance companies to authorize additional visits for patients, if needed, and checks patient eligibility. Her favorite aspect of her job is definitely her patients. “I still get to work with people. I’m able to take care of people and am able to make them happy, it’s just on a different level than I used to do.” When Linda started in this position, it was quite clear to her that there was a lack of connection and relationship with the patients. Her boss trusted her to change that dynamic, and she did just that. “I love my patients. I build a good rapport with them and make sure they’re being taken care of. We want them to enjoy coming here. I enjoy making sure they are taken care of.”
Her life now is completely different than it was prior to attending Summit. “My life before Summit, I worked 24/7. I did my job because I was good at it. Not that I didn’t love parts of it, I did, but I worked so hard, I would miss out on my life. I was so consumed with my laptop and constantly going.” Things have changed so much that her friends even comment on how calm she is nowadays. “Now I wake up, go to work and I love my job. I get to go home at 5 pm and I’m done for the day. I don’t take it all home. I’m not stressed out at all. My previous career was very stressful.”
The most significant insight Linda wants students to understand is that anyone can do it, both because of their own ability and the support they will receive. She told a story about how, in the first two months of her time at Summit, she would create lists of questions. Her instructor would stay after class, sit down one on one with Linda and go through every one. “Anyone can go back to school as long as you want it. Even my friends my age, I tell to go back. They are so intimidated because they’ve been out of school for so long, but age doesn’t matter if you want it. I think people forget that. Just because you’re 30 or 40, it doesn’t matter. If this is what you want to do, you’re passionate about it and you’re determined, you can do it. Age doesn’t matter anymore.” It is safe to say that Linda bravely took the leap and it has paid off in more ways than she could have imagined. “I love my job. School was hard work, going back at 40. But it was a great experience. My life is pretty amazing. I don’t think it’s ever been this good.