Okanagan College opens new career door for student

Graduating from the medical office assistant program at OC has been a game changer in the life of Lindsay Jerome.

  • Jul. 24, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Lindsay Jerome never expected to go into the medical field.

Yet, Jerome decided to take the medical office assistant certificate at Okanagan College and upon graduation was hired by the North Okanagan Medical Clinic at Superstore in Vernon. Three years later, she enjoys a challenging career at the clinic where every day is different.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do and was just working retail – going nowhere,” saidJerome. “I knew I wanted to make more money, and I also wanted a job that was in-demand and that I could be proud of.”

Jerome decided to start investigating post-secondary education and her research led her to consider a career as a medical office assistant.

“Everybody that I talked to about the job had been doing it for 20-plus years, and they loved it,” said Jerome.

Jerome enrolled in the college’s part-time, medical office assistant certificate and worked two jobs – retail and dog grooming – while completing her education.

The flexibility of the program, which includes evenings and some weekend classroom time, allowed her to fit both work and school into her busy schedule.

Jerome found the instructors knowledgeable and ready to answer all of her questions, and appreciated the fact that her training included an observation.

“I did my observation at the clinic that I now work at, and I know for a fact that they wouldn’t have hired me without the course,” said Jerome. “Plus, there’s only so much the books can tell you. Our teacher would often say ‘it depends on where you work.’ So by doing my observation I learned things that were specific to working in a walk-in clinic.”

The medical office assistant program is offered at the Vernon and Kelowna campuses and covers medical terminology, medical office procedures (including computerized medical billing), medical office guidelines, and medical and legal ethical standards. Instructors also help students develop time management and effective verbal and written communication skills.

“The training really is a great jumping off point for our graduates to go into a versatile career,” said instructor Carrol Tull. “We’ve got grads working in doctor’s offices, vet clinics, walk-in clinics, and hospitals.”

Tull also says that the instruction is designed to be hands-on and practical.

“Having been an MOA for many years I get great pleasure passing on my knowledge to the students who are eager to be part of this industry. It’s exciting to be part of this learning process, watching the students become skilled, confident and eager to start their rewarding careers.”

What does Jerome like best about her job?

“You never know what’s going to walk through the door,” she laughed. “It’s chaotic, it’s crazy busy, and it’s challenging because the medical field is always changing and we have about 20-30 doctors who rotate through here. So you’re always learning and definitely never bored.”

Jerome has a message for students considering the program: “Just do it – you won’t regret it.”

To find out more about Okanagan College’s medical office aAssistant certificate, visit okanagan.bc.ca/moa.

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