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Career change to Medical Assisting helps CLC alum find path

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Mar 25, 2022

Donna Fielder first came to College of Lake County (CLC) in 2014 to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education. When her husband, who had Lupus, fell out of remission, she wanted a career that would help her better understand health and how she could help take care of him.

Photo of a nursing assistant

After an unpleasant experience at a hospital, Fielder decided to pursue a degree in Medical Assisting to make sure the same thing didn’t happen to someone else. The Medical Assisting program, which trains students to be Medical Assistants (MA) can get students into a position earning a living wage with just a certificate in as little as one year.

She was nervous when she started her classes, but after jumping in, she felt at home right away. Fielder started her program in summer 2019. CLC was a convenient choice because it’s her local community college, but she’d also heard many great things about the college’s programs.

“I didn’t feel alone," Fielder said. “The classes were so small, and everyone became your peers and family. We could rely on and help each other. It was not intimidating at all.”

While she learned about the medical side of her job, what Fielder found the best about the program was the communication skills she was taught.

“It wasn’t just the medical part,” she said. “We learned about medications, vitals and anatomy, but there is more to the job than that. Patients are nervous, and we have to build a rapport with them. The program helped me develop my communication skills with things like reading faces and needing to have eye contact when talking to patients.”

Fielder enjoyed the hands-on labs they did in class, but her favorite part was being able to get actual on-the-job learning.

Fielder did her externship online due to the pandemic. She still felt like the online portion was set up well and gave her a valuable learning experience.

“Even though I did not get the in-person experience, I was put into scenarios where I could learn,” Fielder said. “I’ve taken those experiences into my career.”

For a typical externship, students are assigned to one of CLC’s partners. They shadow a medical assistant and get to interact with patients themselves, using the skills they learned in the program.

Fielder currently works as a certified medical assistant and quality care coordinator at Family Medicine Specialists in Wauconda. She told her company about the program at CLC and pitched the idea that they could become a site for externships. This has led to a partnership between the practice and the college.

“I believe in the program that much,” Fielder said. “It’s a good way for the students to gain experience and for us to find future medical assistants.”

Fielder is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in healthcare management. Because of how much she enjoyed her time at CLC, she’s taking her general education courses at CLC.

“I’ve never had a bad experience with anyone,” she said. “I’m a perfectionist, and when I struggle, there’s always someone readily available that goes above and beyond.”

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.