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Jennifer Panzella Interview

I am a person who made a career switch after 20 years in the insurance industry. I wanted a job that would be more than a job – and working in healthcare had always interested me. The program was OK, I really didn’t do a lot of investigating beforehand, but I must admit that the instructor was EXCEPTIONAL and made up for the school as a whole was lacking.


Why were you interested in medical assistant training?
My mother made the suggestion, and it really worked out well for me. I liked that the program was only 6 months. It is a good introduction to the healthcare profession. You are involved with patient care, but only in a limited way. You can always go for additional training if you want to advance your career, or go on to nursing school like I am currently doing.


How did you choose the medical assistant program you attended?
My mother had been ill, so I wanted to attend a school near where she lived in case I needed to get to her quickly.


What did you like about the program?
My instructor, Dr. Zavala made the program – he is a gifted teacher, and knows what he is talking about. Not just the technical end of it, but on a personal level – what being a medical assistant REALLY means, how to deal with difficult patients, even the proper way you the MA are expected to behave: be professional in appearance and in your communication.


What did you not like about the program?
The physical appearance was a bit shabby, and some of the equipment was quite old. But I made the most of it and learned.


What types of jobs did you and your fellow classmates get after completing the training? How much did these jobs pay?
I do not know what types of jobs the other students were able to secure, so I will limit this to my experiences: I had a really difficult time at first – no one wanted to hire a “green” MA fresh out of school. What helped me was that I was older and had many years of work experience behind me, so I came across as being responsible and reliable. I have had two medical assisting, the first was working for a doctor in his private practice – a good choice for a first job. I eventually left for a more challenging position – out patient surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Very demanding, fast paced and challenging! I learned more there then anywhere, and that is what helped me make the decision to continue my education and go to nursing school.


What was the total cost for your medical assistant program?
The program was $6,000.


How did you pay for your medical assistant program?
I think I paid around $2,000 because I qualified to financial aid at the time.


What advice would you give to students regarding paying for their medical assistant training?
I think it is a good investment in their future. Look into grants, there is money out there to help with the costs.


What things should a student look for when choosing a medical assistant program?
I would recommend that a tour of the facility be done. What are the schools and instructors credentials for teaching the course. Does the school offer job placement services? What is the schools graduation/successful pass rate for the national certification exam. Where are the internships done (doctors office, hospital setting, nursing home).

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