At the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) no one was sure how a hybrid class of adults and high school students would work — until now. Last week, 22 students ranging in age from 18 to 40-something graduated from the medical assistant program.
Two years ago, legislation was passed allowing adult students to participate in high school programs where space was available. The medical assistant program was one of the first to take advantage of the opportunity.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said instructor Belinda Long. “But it has been a tremendous experience. The older students bring a maturity to the class that benefits everyone.”
Adult student Brooklin Oakes graduated from Mesa’s Mountain View High School and only completed one semester of college before getting married. Her husband was also in college, so she quit and went to work. She looked into attending a private school for medical assisting but it was much too expensive. Basically, she lacked direction, until her girlfriend invited her to go out for lunch one day.
“My friend asked me to go out for lunch with her, but she had to stop at EVIT first to register for their medical assistant class. I went along with her and as I listened to the information, I got excited. It was the program I wanted, and I was able to go on a payment plan that I could afford.”
Brooklin did her externship at University Ob/Gyn. “In class we practiced on each other, but during my externship I worked with real patients who really needed my medical expertise. It was great.” She will immediately begin a new position at Mesa Ob/Gyn as a certified medical assistant.
Also completing the one-and-a-half year program was Louis Sanchez, who brought humor-therapy to his class and his patients. “I loved working with real patients. They were really sick, and I could really help them.”
“Louis was wonderful to have in class because he was so positive,” said Long. “He always had something to share that made you laugh.”
He takes that humor to the workplace as well. “No matter how sick the person is, they always feel better if they can laugh. I take care of them physically, but I like to make them smile too.”
Louis’ internship was at Hope Community Health Center, where all medical and support staff are volunteers. He has two opportunities to choose from now that he has completed his Medical Assistant program. “They were just waiting for me to graduate,” said Sanchez.
He is anxious to get to work in his field, but hopes to one day become a surgical technologist, and maybe even an M.D.
Recognized as an A+ school, EVIT offers more than 40 occupation-specific programs on two campuses. The A. Keith Crandell campus is located at 1601 W. Main Street and the East campus is located at 6625 E. Power Road in Mesa. For more information, call (480) 461-4000.
• Lynn Strang is a public information officer for the East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa.